Durango School District 9-R is expecting to take a 15% reduction in state funding next school year as the state grapples with lost tax revenue after COVID-19 restrictions brought the economy to a crawl.
In total, the potential revenue for next school year is expected to decline $9.25 million, said 9-R’s Chief Financial Officer Samantha Gallagher at a school board meeting Tuesday.
Total revenue for the current year is expected be around $62.24 million
Statewide, the Joint Budget Committee is looking to cut $550 million from K-12 funding for the 2020-21 school year, Gallagher said.
A public budget meeting will be held online using Zoom on Wednesday to gauge residents’ preferences for dealing with the budget shortfall.
The district receives about 70% of its revenue from the state and about 30% of its revenue from local property taxes.
Superintendent Dan Snowberger detailed 16.2 full-time employees eliminated from the central office as part of the budget-cutting effort.
The curriculum department will lose 3.5 FTEs, who will go from modeling curriculum improvements for teachers to filling open teaching positions.
The operations and facilities department will lose 4.5 FTEs, one position was eliminated in the finance department, two FTEs were eliminated in the technology department, one instructional position was eliminated and 4.2 FTEs in student services were eliminated.
Savings from the eliminated central office positions totaled $1.07 million.
“We can’t forget that while these positions will be eliminated the work does not go away. We have to avoid the work rolling down to the school level,” he said.
In addition, another $308,000 was cut by eliminating all paid professional development.
Snowberger said he anticipated some additional retirements and resignations in the central office that could lead to more savings.
Further straining the budget situation, 9-R anticipates an enrollment decline of at least 100 students next year, which would bring an additional decline in state revenue of an estimated range between $758,761 and $674,454.
A survey showed about 180 families in the district either are leaving the district or are considering leaving the district because of the economic impacts of COVID-19. And the district is currently projecting that will lead to the 100-student drop in enrollment.
In a move related to the difficult budgetary situation, the school board unanimously passed a resolution backing passage of Initiative 271 in the Colorado General Assembly.
The measure would increase income taxes for people making more than $250,000 from a current rate of 4.63% to a rate ranging from 7% to 8.9%, while simultaneously reducing the income tax for anyone making less than $250,000 from 4.63% to 4.58%.
It is estimated to raise an additional $2 billion annually for the state.
The measure requires two-thirds support of the Legislature to be put on the November ballot.