School's budget balanced

Colfax Elementary heads into 2012-13 with minimal cuts
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The Colfax Elementary School District Board of Trustees has adopted a $2,841,173 budget for the 2012-13 school year. The results of the budget, approved at the board?s June 14 meeting, are good for the coming year, with minimal additional cuts, but worries may lie ahead in future years, according to Superintendent/Principal Anne Stone. The district had previously anticipated possibly increasing class sizes and creating more combination classes to save money to balance the budget. However, because of the receipt of unexpected transportation funding for this year, those cuts are no longer necessary, Stone said. Class sizes and plans will remain the same for the upcoming year. To facilitate this, Colfax will be hiring one new teacher to replace first-grade teacher Cathy Engellenner, the only teacher who retired this year. ?Hiring a new teacher will help us keep the class sizes small, like they have been,? Stone said. Some community members questioned whether replacing the teacher was wise given the tight budget, suggesting that saving the money for this year might alleviate the woes in future years. However, Stone and district Business Manager Teri Lettich see it differently. ?To me, replacing the retiring teacher is critical because of the ripple effect. Larger class sizes may affect our enrollment because it eliminates our ability to compete with other local schools. The loss of just 10 students would offset any benefit of not having that one teacher,? Stone said. ?Given the cuts that we?ve made in the past few years, we are fine for this year. We will be spending just slightly over our income, about $2,000,? Stone said. While deficit spending is at a minimum for this upcoming year, the projected budget over the next three years shows a significant increase in deficit spending looming unless new funding becomes available. The board?s greatest hope is for the November tax increase initiative to pass, providing the district with a substantial increase in funds. ?Besides cutting staff, we don?t have much room to cut deficit spending at this point,? Lettich said. ?We planned our budget as if the tax initiative fails.? And if it fails, the district may face extreme cuts. But for now, Stone says, the school is going to proceed as it has in the past couple of years, with minimal changes. With the scrimping the district has done over the years, coming down to $2,841,173 this year from the 2010-11 budget of $3,020,999 has resulted in a deficit for the upcoming year of $2,157. However, unless additional funds become available, the district faces deficits of $31,387 for 2013-14 and $225,214 for 2014-15, due to loss of revenue and uncontrollable increasing costs, such as health care and step salary increases for staff. ?We have not needed to make additional cuts because we are going to be OK. Being OK means that we are barely OK, and that is because of the cuts we have been making over the years. We need a longer-term solution,? Stone said. ?The tax initiative would be a long-term solution that would enable us to maintain and regain our programs and level of service.?