By Gary Blaz
The Administrators and Board of Trustees of the Cottonwood School District are planning to meet these reductions with closing a school building. We have to justify the maintenance and upkeep of a building with very few classrooms being occupied. With having 43 seniors and 20 kindergartners it is plain to see that some difficult decisions need to be made.
It was decided that the Elementary School will be the one to close starting with the 2011 -2012 school year. (18 months) This was decided as the most appropriate building at this time, since it is the smaller of the district’s three buildings and it may offer more opportunities for future economic development.
Last year at this time the district showed a $400,000 deficit for this school year. In order to make ends meet we levied $150,000, transferred $125,000 from Craig/ Widen Forest Funds, and cut the remaining $125,000 in most staff and services. We must remember that even though the Craig / Widen monies are made available due to loss of forest revenue, it is one time money, which could possibly go away at some time. Thus, it’s crucial that we plan our future budgets without depending on this fund down the road. We are utilizing the forest funds now for upgrading our facilities: ie heating systems, windows, gym floor, roofs, etc. With this action we will be assured that when we are 18 months down the road the facilities will be in their best shape possible.
One may ask why not simply use the Craig / Widen forest funds until they are gone then come to the public for help. That’s an easy solution, but can we depend on the public always willing to accept the burden of more taxation? Right now our teacher/student ratio is in line with state funding. We are over an est. $30,000 in administration and about $80,000 in classified allotments. This is before the projected cuts of 5 to 10% for this upcoming year. Remember this “Action Plan” is preparing us for 2011/2012. Although we are closing a building we feel that in some areas we can better our programs if we employ a K-6 Elementary School and a 7-12 Junior High/High School combination. These enhancements may provide better cohesive curriculum or a 7- 12th graduate requirement. Growing down does not need to be a negative process.
I am most certain that many good patrons have many valuable and pertinent questions regarding the proposed “Action Plan”. Please call my office at 962-3971 or my home 962-7110 with any concerns. I will publish those questions and concerns weekly to help inform our community.