District 51 Catches Break as Budget Woes Continue

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) - Now that the state has approved a final budget, School District 51 says it will be getting down to business working on its own. Trying to shore up a projected $12 million shortfall, school leaders learned during Tuesday night's school board meeting that they may have some extra money to help do that.

All school districts in Colorado are required by law to put money into an emergency reserve fund that the state can pull from during tough financial times -- which is what happened this year.

District 51 initially thought the move would cost it $800,000 -- but it got some good news when its latest spending reports were released.

With just a few weeks of classes left, the District has used 72 percent of its total budget for the current school year. Officials say that number is usually closer to 85 percent this time of year. But thanks to some real dollar stretching by their entire staff, the District says it will only be down $400,000 with the state taking the emergency funds.

School leaders say the money saved can now go towards next year's budget, where it's greatly needed.

"We're really trying to ensure that any cuts we make don't impact instruction, that's really our mission," said Jeff Kirtland, spokesperson for School District 51. "But we know that next year's budget is going to be difficult."

Also during Tuesday's meeting, District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz asked the board not to give him the raise promised to him in his contract, saying he could not accept it while the rest of the District is making tough decisions.

Officials say most of the budget grunt work will take place in May. The board will have to adopt a final budget by the end of June.

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