Roaring Fork Schools’ 2018-19 budget approved
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2018
The Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education approved the 2018-19 budget on June 13 with a combined total budget appropriation of $113.6 million. Of the district’s 12 funds, the general fund is the largest with an appropriation of $72.4 million for 2018-19. This fund provides for almost all school operations and related support functions of the district--everything from instruction to student services to building operations. More than 86 percent of the general fund is allocated to schools, with the rest of the fund supporting facility maintenance, transportation, technology, and other central services.
Next year’s budget is affected by the School Finance Bill (HB 1379), which passed in Colorado’s legislature and became law in May 2018. HB 1379 results in an average increase in per pupil funding (PPF) of 6.2 percent, which will generate about $2.7 million of additional funding for the Roaring Fork Schools. It is the largest single year PPF increase since before the Great Recession, made possible by a currently robust Colorado economy.
In addition to the PPF increase, Roaring Fork Schools will receive about $900,000 in one-time “rural sustainability” funds aimed at “improving student learning and the educational environment.” These funds will be discussed as part of the certified interest-based bargaining process in the fall, where members will develop expenditure recommendations to be presented to the Board of Education.
The increased PPF dollars in the 2018-19 general fund will be used primarily for an average wage increases of 5.5 percent, bringing the average teacher salary from about $50,000 to about $52,750, and a four percent increase in health insurance costs.
The budget development process for next school year began in February 2018. The planning process was informed by feedback from various constituencies, including accountability committees, building and department leadership teams, interest-based bargaining representatives, and individual employees. Additionally, the budget is aligned with the priorities identified in the district’s strategic plan, which was adopted in 2014 after an extensive community input process.
A major priority of the plan is to retain and attract great teachers. Average teacher salaries in Colorado lag nearly $7,000 below the national average, so even with the funding increase from HB 1379, offering competitive salaries will continue to be a challenge for the Roaring Fork Schools. Currently, Colorado’s public schools see an annual funding shortfall of about $822 million compared to the funding formula prescribed by Amendment 23. The funding increase for next year will reduce this shortfall to $672 million statewide.
“With limited resources, we are doing our best to fund strategic priorities and offer many programs that other districts have cut,” said Superintendent Rob Stein. “The funding increase for next year is a step in the right direction, but Colorado still lags in its efforts to fund public schools at a level that enables us to pay decent wages and preserve vital programs.”