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School district presents draft budget


The Archuleta School District Board of Education (BOE) held a work session on Tuesday, May 28, in which Assistant Finance Director Eric Burt presented the 2024-2025 draft budget for the district.

Burt began the presentation by noting a few highlights in the budget, which included the total program funding at $18,924,881, a 6.8 percent increase from the previous year. The district’s per-pupil funding is $11,782, an 8.5 percent increase from last year.

He explained that the per-pupil funding is a larger increase compared to the total program funding “due to the fact that secure rural money is now a part of the formula.”

Total projected revenue is listed at $21,218,546, Burt noted, explaining that, of that total, $929,106 is considered as “additional” or “new money.”

From the additional $929,106, 80 percent of that, or $743,285, was allocated to salaries/benefits and 20 percent, or $185,821, was allocated to operations in the draft budget.

Other highlights noted by Burt include a 3 percent raise for all employees, an additional top step for all certified and classified lanes, and the addition of two new special education teachers.

Burt went on to mention that the district pupil count for that proposed budget is 1,606, which is down from 1,631 the previous year.

He also noted that the budget stabilization factor will not be included in the 2024-2025 budget. 

“So, we’re not going to lose that quarter million or so,” he said.

Total appropriated funds is listed at $34,460,430. The general fund is responsible for $30,490,156 of those appropriations, while the food service fund has $1,004,806, the designated purpose grants fund is at $1,371,368 and the pupil activity fund is at $347,223.

The remaining appropriations are the capital reserve fund at $927,678 and the trust fund at $319,299, according to the draft budget.

Burt indicated that when the BOE votes on approving the budget at the next regular board meeting, those will be the amounts being looked at.

He also noted that the BOE will have to vote on approving the original food service fund balance of $161,777 and the capital fund project balance of $400,078.

Burt explained that the capital fund project balance reflects previous year’s projects that have not been completed or totally liquidated yet.

Burt went on to provide more detail in regard to pupil count in the district and the state’s projections.

The state is projecting roughly a 50-student drop in enrollment for the district for next year. This is following a 110-student drop in the district’s enrollment last year, he explained.

Burt mentioned that drop is mainly due to preschool program enrollment numbers no longer being included in that count.

“But, overall, we can see that we are on a downward track in terms of pupil count,” he added.

Burt went on to review the general fund summary in more detail, noting a $2.6 million increase in local revenue, “on top of the almost $4 million that we have in the revised budget, so we’re looking at $19.67 million.”

Total fund balances for 2024-2025 are shown as $30.5 million when taking in the beginning fund balance, he noted.

Burt mentioned the largest increase in expenditures is under instructional services, which includes salaries and benefits for school staff. Total expenditures under instructional services is shown at $12,028,468.

Burt also noted the district is seeing an increase in transportation and a “slight” increase in maintenance. 

He noted that maintenance is up to $2.3 million and transportation is up to $1.25 million, which will include two new vehicles.

Superintendent Rick Holt explained that the district is holding three or four open driver spots while recruiting for that position and making sure that is budgeting for the necessary additional routes. 

The funds will be available as soon as the district is able to fill those driver positions, Holt indicated.

Overall, expenditures will be up $586,108, totaling $20,539,343, from the revised December 2023 budget that listed total expenditures at $19,953,235.

Under transfers/allocations, $1,249,468 is set for the charter school and $527,500 is set for the capital reserve.

BOE member Tim Taylor asked if the 3 percent pay raise is primarily available due to the additional $929,106

Holt replied, “That’s correct.”

BOE president Bob Lynch asked for clarification on the amount of the state’s contribution from last year to this year.

Burt explained that, for the current year, the state’s contribution is just under $3.3 million and that for the upcoming year it will be at $1.9 million.

“That puts us in a really elite group of districts around the state who receive the vast majority of funding from local taxes,” said Holt.

“Quite the change around, but tax increases have had their effect,” Lynch said.

Lynch noted that there is a shift in where the district money will be coming from, with more money coming in locally through taxes rather than from the state government. 

He also commented on the budget stabilization factor used in the past, which meant the district would allocate the money for an item and then subtract from it.

“So, that’s quite significant. We can credit the state for getting their act together a little bit and thankfully we have the local resources to find our share of that … schools are getting a little more money to do the most important job that everyone here at the district does, so, grateful for that,” Lynch said.

BOE member Amanda Schick commented on the “forward thinking” for transportation needs in the district, along with the salary increases for staff.

“I really appreciate that the intention and the goal is to continue to get those bus routes out. I also very much appreciate us continuing to have the focus of the staff salary and taking care of the hardworking people in the district, so I just want to say thank you. This is a lot of work you guys put together, so I appreciate the thoroughness and the transparency,” Schick said.

The BOE will vote on the proposed budget during its next regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on June 11 in the Pagosa Springs Middle School library at 309 Lewis St.