School district explores future budgets

Posted 11/27/09

Instead of bracing for $6 million in cuts, Littleton Public Schools is expected to cut $9 million for next school year — a number recently …

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School district explores future budgets


Instead of bracing for $6 million in cuts, Littleton Public Schools is expected to cut $9 million for next school year — a number recently recommended by the governor.

For six weeks, school district officials chatted with all district advisory and school accountability committees to obtain input regarding the development of the 2010-11 budget.

The board is scheduled to receive a series of budget-reducing recommendations at the Dec. 10 meeting.

Losing teachers, raising class sizes, losing programs and closing additional schools were all issues of concern echoed at the meetings.

“Unfortunately, we must make tough decisions before we have all the information,” said Superintendent Scott Murphy on the district’s Web site.

“There are no simple solutions left,” Murphy said.

While the Colorado Legislature isn’t expected to pass a school finance bill until late May, LPS must decide the number of staff at each school for next year by February.

The district won’t know how much funding it will receive until after staffing decisions are made.

Thirty-one positions were already eliminated from the 2009 budget, along with $1 million in central office positions over the past two years.

Additionally, salaries and benefits were reduced by $1 million and two schools were closed.

Roughly $6.1 million has been cut from LPS’ budget over the past two years.

For 2009-10, the general fund is $131 million. The largest portion of the fund ($99 million) is spent on instruction costs, which includes salaries and benefits, supplies, building administration and special student programs.

About $27 million is spent on support services like learning, operations, information technology and transportation services.

But also included in the 2009-10 budget is $2 million that was required to be set aside by the state this year. The funds are expected to be rescinded in January.

The state gave schools across the state $110 million for this fiscal year, but schools were instructed to not spend it in case the state needed it back.

And there aren’t enough reserves left to solve the problems. The reserves and cash balances are at historically low levels. While $10 million is designated, only about $3 million is available.

The amount would be enough to cover one week’s worth of expenses.

One solution under consideration is the possibility of taking a bond issue to the voters next year to help offset lost revenue, Murphy said at a Town Hall meeting hosted by Rep. Spence Swalm (R-Centennial).

Littleton Public Schools reduced its 2009 budget by $4 million as a result of the economy, and has had to reduce its budget for a number of years prior due to declining enrollment.

In 104 years, the district has never lost an election for more money, according to Murphy.

“We’re going to have a need now,” he said, adding he’s concerned the economy might not support their efforts.

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