Board of Education considers budget options, possible ballot measures
Among the options: Salary increases, more student-based dollars to our schools and adding general fund revenues to support athletics and activities
CASTLE ROCK – The Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education (BOE) has several options to ponder as it considers next year’s budget.
During a work session in early April, DCSD Chief Financial Officer, Bonnie Betz, presented a brief budget update to the Board outlining the additional resources, approximately $14.1 Million, the District expects to have available for the upcoming school year. She presented four possible budgets illustrating the many options available to the BOE Directors to prioritize for next year. Each option includes the expected, non-discretionary expenditures like PERA retirement contribution increases.
As Betz explained, the District is projecting an increase of $7.4 million from the state for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which includes both the $5.8 million proposed in the School Finance Act (SFA) and $1.6 million in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016 Supplemental approved already this Spring. The FY 2016-2017 SFA is currently before lawmakers at the state capitol. In addition, FY 2014-15 carry-over of $3.5 million had been assigned for pay increases in 2016-17 and we have realized some current year savings to make up the full $14.1 million.
The options include:
· A possible increase of $50 per student to School Based Budgets (SBB) requiring an additional budget allocation of $2.6 million
· A salary increase for employees requiring $3 million allocation for each 1 percent increase approved
· An increase to athletic fees or a transfer from the general fund to cover athletic-related needs requiring an additional budget allocation of $1 million
· A proposal to drop the transportation fee currently paid by students who ride the bus that would require $1.5 million in an additional budget allocation to transportation
· Proposed changes to the elementary school administrator formula, which would lower the number of students required before a school can get an assistant principal allocation with a cost of about $500,000
In the end, the Board must decide on a budget package that results in an incremental increase over FY 2015-2016 of about $14.1 Million.
The budget presentation was part of a larger discussion regarding future funding for the District, which included presentations from the District Accountability Committee (DAC) and Fiscal Oversight Committee (FOC).
The FOC brought forward a recommendation to the BOE regarding the best way to fund the most urgent needs of the District as well as how best to fund the next five years of new construction associated with student growth. Their recommendation included pursuing a bond and/or mill levy override to meet these priorities. Specifically the recommendation called for the District to pursue an $83 Million bond and $23 Million mill levy override to cover all new construction needs over the next five years, 100 percent of the "Tier 1, high priority reinvestment projects" as defined by the Master Capital Plan (MCP) and 50 percent of all other reinvestment projects, also outlined in MCP.
The Board directed staff to move forward exploring a possible bond and mill levy. BOE Directors Judi Reynolds and Anne-Marie Lemieux will act as liaisons.