As a result of the Colorado School Finance Act, 9-R’s revenue will decrease by 5%, or $6M. A total of $3.5 million in both pre-COVID and COVID spending cuts that have occurred so far. While the district has lost $3.9M in state funding with the passage of the 2020 School Finance Act, the district also faces a reduction in the number of students enrolled next year. The proposed budget was based on assumptions of a 200 student decline in enrollment, which further impacts the district budget by $1.6 million. A total of $1.5M of the revenue’s are pass-through for the Juniper Charter School and another $5.6M for Connections Academy.
For the 2020/21 budget, the district’s net expenditures will decrease by $4M, with a total spend down of reserves of $750,000. Some of the cost savings were achieved with the following measures: flat salaries, hiring freeze, reducing inter-scholastic funds, 5-percent reduction of schools discretionary allocations, 10-percent reduction of central operation budgets, an increase in PCC facility rent, removing attendance incentives and eliminating all employee travel.
“This was a difficult budget to grapple with this year, and we appreciate all the sound advice from our Financial Advisory Committee, as well as the critical conversations with our Board and our Associations to reach this point,” said Dan Snowberger, Superintendent. “More difficult decisions may be required in the Fall due to these challenging circumstances, but the board’s passage of this budget is critical to support our staff and families now and into the Fall.”
At this time, the district and its two associations, Durango Education Association (representing teachers) and the Durango Education Support Professional Association (representing non-teaching staff), have reached an agreement on the budget needs and adjustments required next year. All negotiation teams have most recently focused on adjusting the master agreement to make the necessary changes in the budget. A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the parties to make these necessary changes.
The district received $2.6M in funds from the state’s CARES Act, intended to infuse funding to schools who incurred unanticipated costs directly related to COVID. These dollars were first utilized to create a childcare program to support our frontline workers who were responding to the pandemic but did not have options for their children due to the widespread closure of childcare facilities and camps. Additionally, the dollars will go to support our summer school program that is running at all school sites, for the purpose of helping children recover lost instructional hours due to the pandemic.
Going forward, there are many unknowns that may result in revisions to this adopted budget in the fall, including actual cost to restart school, official enrollment, further rescissions from the state, and continued COVID-19-related closures. The district will continue to monitor these potential impacts to ensure that student needs are met and all staff groups receive the supports they need.