Final enrollment figures for Delta County Joint School District #50 show a decrease of 107 students, a number that's anticipated to create funding challenges for the 2014-15 school year.
In anticipation of that scenario, superintendent Caryn Gibson has proposed a district budget advisory committee.
The committee will provide advice and recommendations on financial issues and take input from the public. The school board has final approval authority.
The budget committee will have three facilitators — Gibson, facilities supervisor John McHugh and business manager Jim Ventrello. Pete Blair and Tammy Smith will be the school board representatives. The committee will also include two principals, two district accountability members, two coordinating council members, two classified council members, two district administrators and four community/business members.
During the months of December and January, the district budget committee will review options. The committee will then prioritize funding options and provide recommendations for the school board.
During the months of February and March, the Delta County School Board will meet and discuss how best to meet funding challenges. In April, the school board will make decisions with regards to the 2014-2015 budget.
Declining enrollment has also impacted the funding picture of Vision Charter Academy, where student numbers have dropped by 175 in the charter's first year.
When establishing per-pupil funding, the state allows a school district to "average" enrollment numbers to smooth out fluctuations in student count. The school district will be relying on that provision to cushion the drop in state equalization funds that parallels declining student enrollment.
The board of stewards of Vision Charter Academy has written a letter of protest to school board members, stating some of that "cushion" is the result of Vision enrollment and therefore the funds coming back to the school district should be shared with Vision.
The school district's leadership team refused their request, which prompted the letter asking the school board to reconsider.
"The district will receive approximately $468,100 for this school year that otherwise would not be available but for the high enrollment numbers of Vision Home and Community Program (VHCP) learners in the previous four years ..." the letter states.
"It is patently unfair for VHCP to have provided service to these learners and for the district to receive the monetary reward of that service while refusing to share even a portion of these monies at a time it is sorely needed. We are asking for $234,050 out of the total $468,100."
The letter continues, "The amount of money we are requesting here is a very small percentage, 0.5% of the district's overall budget, but a very significant percentage, 9.7%, of the VCA budget. Even more than that, this funding support could represent a tipping point in our fledgling year of existence."
The letter points to the "unreasonable timeframe" VCA was given to address families' concerns regarding major changes in the program as it converted from a contract school to a charter school. Some returning families began to lose confidence in the new structure or simply decided they would not accept further changes.
Up to that point, the board of stewards asserts, Vision enrollment had increased each year by an average of 55 learners per year. Because the school district is receiving revenues earned by the consistently high enrollment of VHCP for the past four years, they think it's only fair for the district to share half of this year's allocation.
No action was taken on the letter after it was presented at the Nov. 21 school board meeting.blog comments powered by Disqus