With state tax revenues plummeting as commerce grinds to a halt under COVID-19 restrictions, Durango School District 9-R has received an initial warning that state support for its budget is likely to drop by at least $1.1 million under a “best-case scenario” for the next school year.
Superintendent Dan Snowberger said he received word Monday from the Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado General Assembly that state dollars for 9-R, which came in at $34.7 million for the 2019-20 budget, will decrease by $1.1 million under a “best-case scenario,” according to the Legislature’s March forecast.
“I think the concern is that the May forecast may come in showing an even more dire picture of state revenues,” Snowberger said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Right now, we’re examining trimming. We’re trying to focus on trimming away from the classroom as much as possible.”
Fourteen positions in the central administrative office have been eliminated for next year, some of the positions were vacant and some employees are in the process of being informed that their position will be eliminated in the 2020-21 budget, Snowberger said.
“None of this is easy. This is a real difficult situation,” he said. “We are doing our best to target away from the classroom,” he said.
Principals have also eliminated one staff position from each school in next year’s budget, Snowberger said.
“We’re continuing to identify additional central office positions that could be cut for next year. Right now, we’re in the kind of wait-and-see. We don’t want to cut unknowingly, but we’re also at the same time identifying what are the positions that don’t directly impact our classrooms, that don’t impact directly what’s happening in schools.”
Beyond loss of state revenues, 9-R officials are surveying families to see if they might be forced to leave the Durango area in the next year because of economic hardships associated with measures to slow the novel coronavirus.
As of Sunday, Snowberger said 57 families had alerted the district that they might be moving out of the district because of economic losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Falling enrollment could further reduce state support of 9-R’s budget, Snowberger said.
In addition to the loss of $1.1 million in state dollars, state support would also decrease per pupil if enrollment comes in below 9-R’s current 5,251 students.
“The $1.1 million is based upon maintaining our current enrollment. Right now, we’re surveying our families to see if there are those who may need to leave our community. That could lead to some additional impact,” Snowberger said.