By Sandy Barnes
The Thompson School District is facing a possible $2.3 million funding deficit for the coming school year because of state budget concerns, Steve Towne, executive director of Financial Services reported at the Wednesday, March 4 Board of Education meeting.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty around this,” Towne said. “At this point in time, we’re dealing with a lot of question marks.”
Anticipated lower enrollment in district schools is also affecting funding, Towne said. The district receives $6,554 from the state for each pupil, with the amount typically increased annually for inflation.
In addition to anticipated budget cuts for the 2009-10 schoolyear, Towne said there is a possibility the school district may lose an additional $500,000 in funding this year.
To deal with the situation, Towne said the central office is seeking cost-savings measures.
“We’re trying to prepare ourselves for any scenario that may come down the pike,” Towne said. “We are prepared for a rainy day.”
Laurie Shearer, president of the Thompson Education Association, expressed dismay over the impending cuts in teaching staff.. which, she said during the public comment portion of the meeting, is affecting teacher morale. Shearer suggested the board consider using reserve funds and restructuring administration to deal with the issue.
In action items, the school board approved non-potable water interconnections at Berthoud High and Turner Middle Schools.
During the meeting, the board also heard a request from the Thompson Valley High School student council to hold this year’s graduation ceremony at the school.
Student council members said that, according to a poll they conducted, 98 percent of seniors wanted to graduate at the school’s Ray Patterson Field rather than at The Ranch. The district signed a contract with the Ranch last year as the place for high school graduations. They also said that they would pay for the entire cost of holding graduation at Thompson Valley High.
Director Lola Johnson expressed concerns about the liability involved regarding vendors. School Board President Bill McCreary thanked the delegation for their enthusiasm and suggested the matter be considered at future meeting.
“I admire your energy with this,” Director Karen Stockley said to the student council representatives.
During his report at the beginning of the meeting, Thompson District Superintendent Dr. Ron Cabrera said he and his staff are monitoring pending state legislation that would affect school operations and funding. One bill in the state senate would require seat belts to be installed on buses for all passengers, he said. “This is not necessarily a helpful bill,” he said, because of the cost involved and the question of whether seat belts add to the safety of student bus riders.