answers frequently asked questions
The Cottonwood school district will encumber a $450,000.00 deficit for the upcoming school year. (09-10) The board of trustees and the administrators have been working diligently trying to make up this difference with out hindering the excellent product that it produces. Our proficiency scores are in the upper 5% of the state. All of our programs are flourishing and successful.
One of the main reasons for this deficit is the ongoing drop in enrollment. We have now 44 seniors who are about to leave our ranks being replaced by 22 kindergarteners. The district leaders are researching many thoughts and ideas to help this situation.
I have put together a series of questions that may help inform the general public of what we are considering.
1. Why is there so much discussion of closing a building? With the drastic drop in enrollment the state will be reimbursing the district with less and less money each year since the teacher / student ration is declining. We can not justify classroom sizes of such small nature. Next year we will have 1 kindergarten, 1 first grade, and 1 second grade. If we project this scenario for the next few years we will have only 5 classrooms functioning in a building that houses 12 rooms. Our research shows that in two years two buildings will sufficiently house the entire district. Thus, is enrollment continues to fall we will be making arrangements to close the grade school building. We are projecting at this time that we can save up to $300,000.00 annually if we close a building.
2. Will we sell the building at that time? I am recommending not to sell for the next four to five years after closing. We would be better off to lease until we know definitely that we will no longer need the facility.
3. What does a four day school week do for the district? In a recent article by our middle school principal, Ms. Rene’ Forsmann, the district lost close to $90,000.00 in enrollment reimbursements. As you are aware the district receives X amount of money for each day your child is present. We know that we can save up to $40,000.00 in staff salaries, transportation, facility expense, with a shorter week, but now we may realize generating more income if children miss less school.
4. Why not use the forest funds provided by the Craig / Wyden bill? It is true that we will receive $600,000 for the first year with expecting 10% less for each of the following 3 years. I have never found it to be good a good practice to use soft or one time moneys to subplant on going expenditures. This leads to devastating cuts when the money runs out. We are in the process of upgrading the high school and middle school to prepare for the change in two years. It’s important that we take care of the facilities to prevent any future hardships on our patrons and community. If we plan appropriately we can eliminate any needed bonds in the future. I am most certain that the general public realizes that the heating systems need upgrading.
5. Is the district going to ask for a supplemental levy? As you recall we did ask for a supplemental levy of $208,000 last year. We do sincerely appreciate the public support that we receive each and every year and if we can not cut our budget to the accepted amount we will again ask the public for help. We are working hard to try to come up with less than last year, but we have no guarantees at this time. This could be a time to use a portion of the forest funds to balance our budget and reduce the voters need.
6. Where are the cuts coming from? If a five day calendar is approved the cuts will come from eliminating all fluff or fat from the budget as well as certified and classified staff. We will be scrutinizing every line item and program.
I will be providing more questions each week. Please remember the numbers are estimated at this time. If you have questions concerning our actions please call your board members or my office at 208-962-3971