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Tuesday Churn: Budget decisions

What’s churning:

Aurora Public Schools board members tonight will discuss a draft budget plan for 2012-13 that includes cuts of $4 million to $5 million, despite the relatively good news that state school funding will be flat next year.

Superintendent John Barry, who like other superintendents is having to explain cuts in the midst of better-than-expected budget news, explained it this way in a letter to staff:

The new revenue forecast is great economic news from the state. However, we are still facing a $4-5 million gap between revenues and expenditures for 2012-13. This gap is due to year over year cost increases in areas such as PERA, healthcare, energy, and labor. This deficit is on top of a 3.7% inflation factor that is also not funded by the State.

In summary, we have had a $70 million cut in our budget over 3 years and with next year’s projection of a $4-5 million gap and 3.7% inflation we are fast approaching a $80 million cut in our budget over 4 years.

Also tonight, Douglas County school board members will get an update on its 2012-13 budget reduction plan, which is based largely on requiring high school teachers to teach an additional class next year.

Already, Adams 12 Five Star Schools Superintendent Chris Gdowski has announced plans to cut 60 jobs and add furlough days to trim $12 million in 2012-13 while the state’s largest school district, Jeffco Public Schools, is imposing a one-year reductions reprieve to allow community members to consider a possible tax increase in November.

Jeffco board members will hold a public hearing on their budget proposal on Thursday, which follows community forums on the budget held over the weekend. Another budget hearing is planned June 7. Meanwhile, Jeffco employees have another furlough day Friday, one of this year’s cost-savings measures.

Districts must approve their budgets by July 1, though many try to do so before school’s out so their employees leave knowing what’s coming in the fall. Aurora, for example, is expected to vote on their budget May 15.

To see how the proposed School Finance Act, which is expected to be approved, would affect your school district’s funding per-pupil in 2012-13, search our database.

What’s on tap today:

The Colorado State University Board of Governors starts two days of meetings at the Lory Student Center on campus in Fort Collins. Committee meetings are today, and the full board meets Wednesday. Agenda

The Aurora school board has a 6 p.m. meeting scheduled in the Mount Massive Room of the Professional Learning and Conference Center, 15771 E. 1st Ave. The agenda includes presentation of a draft copy of the proposed 2012-13 budget, which returns for a final vote May 15, along with approval of an amended 2012-13 calendar, which provides a 175-day school year plus another 23 days of “fifth block,” additional instruction for selected students. The board also is scheduled to meet in closed session before and after the 6 p.m. board meeting, to discuss personnel issues and strategy for negotiations.

The Douglas County board has a 7 p.m. session scheduled at the administration building, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. The agenda includes an update on the 2012-13 budget and a report on high school scheduling changes under the new budget, which is based on high school teachers taking on an additional class next year.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Falcon 49 innovation update: The Falcon 49 school district east of Colorado Springs has gone superintendent-less and split into innovation zones in a plan that is expected to stretch the limits of the state’s innovation act. Monday night, the oft-contentious board approved the first of what will become four innovation zones – it had been three, each centered around a high school, but the district recently added another zone for its online program. The Colorado Springs Gazette has the story.

School spending investigation: A Call7 analysis finds school districts are still spending money on expensive meals, teacher parties and even gift cards, despite years of repeated budget cuts. “While the totals would never fix the districts’ budget deficits, the spending shows that administrators are not cutting potentially wasteful at the time many schools are cutting education resources,” according to the report.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at

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