The increase implemented for the 2007-08 school year, at a cost of around $85,000 per year, is currently being covered by carryover cash from the previous year’s budget. However, this year the budget was tighter, and next year’s is looking even more so. Kern said a mil levy override would be a good option to acquire the extra funds needed to keep up with the approximately 3 percent increase to salaries – without having to cut into programs, field trips or sports.
The school board is currently considering whether or not the community would be willing to support the override, something Ouray Schools has never asked for before, according to Kern.
Boardmember Jim Link wrote in an email to The Watch that “with a one mil override, the District could continue the current salary schedule without cutting programs. Normal increases in State funding would go towards cost of living raises and inflation adjustments to non-salary budget items. Without a one mil override, something in the budget for 2009-2010 would have to be cut or eliminated.”
The board discussed eliminating or reducing line items in the budget, but without the increase in funding an override would bring, they would constantly be playing catch-up with the budget. Link noted that without cutting programs, they would have to eliminate teacher positions at the school – an option that’s not viable because no grades are small enough in student counts to combine the classrooms.
Link also informed The Watch that the board is considering a mil levy override of two and a half mils, raising around $155,000. In addition to salary increases the extra money would go toward long-term improvements to existing school buildings and would assist in implementing programs congruent with the school’s strategic plan.
With the average home valuation set by the county assessor’s office at $378,000, a two and a half mil levy increase would mean approximately an additional $94 per year or $7.88 per month in taxes. The same override would cost the average business owner with a $409,000 median valuation approximately $540 per year, or $45 per month, Link’s email reported.
No decisions were made at the meeting, and the board is now faced with the task of evaluating whether or not the community may support the initiative, and whether it is the best option for the future of Ouray Schools.