Jeffco Schools’ “summit” recommends sending tax increase to voters
LAKEWOOD – Jeffco school district voters would be asked to approve a tax increase on November’s ballot if School Board members accept the recommendations stemming from an “Employee Summit,” school officials announced Friday.
The recommendation was one of a number of measures compiled during last week’s two-day “summit,” which included two members of the Board of Education, district administrators and members of the unions representing Jeffco Public Schools employees. A similar meeting was conducted last year.
The school district wants to trim $50 million to $60 million from budget growth over the next two years. The district’s overall 2011-2012 budget is $997.1 million and the General Fund, the district’s operating budget, accounts for $619.6 million of the total, or just less than two-thirds of the total budget.
The summit’s tentative budget plan for the 2012-2013 school year would keep cuts away from the classroom and saved some teaching jobs that had been on the chopping block, according to Dr. Cynthia Stevenson, superintendent of Jeffco Schools.
“Our employees are helping to keep cuts out of the classroom by continuing to take furlough days which equates to $5 million in savings. They are doing that to ensure that our students receive an excellent education in Jeffco,” Stevenson said.
The suggestions, if approved by the School Board. Also would avoid previously proposed reductions in such popular programs as elementary school music and other electives, said School Board president Lesley Dahlkemper
“We asked our community what they valued and it was teachers, along with music, arts, and teacher librarians. I’m pleased to say that we listened and have saved those jobs for at least one more year,” said Lesley Dahlkemper, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education.
The School Board is expected to withdraw an additional $5 million from the Reserve Fund, the district’s savings account, to offset other proposed 2012-2013 reductions. The majority of the cuts for the 2012-2013 school year will come from central administration and other support functions, according to a Jeffco Public Schools news release announcing the Employee Summit recommendations.
Other recommendations include avoiding eliminating any elementary music teachers, teacher librarians, other teachers or counselors for the 2012-2013 school year; funding the district’s Outdoor Lab facilities under a sustainability plan supported by the Outdoor Lab Foundation and the district; continuing free full-day kindergarten will continue for some Jeffco schools; and continuing the two furlough days implemented last year will for all Jeffco employees. If approved by the School Board, the furloughs and other measures would represent a 3 percent reduction in employee compensation over the past two years, according to the press release.