The tentative 2018-19 Jeffco Schools budget will include a state funding increase of $37.6 million, which will result in increased funding for schools and employee salaries next year. The Jeffco School Board will vote on the final budget allocations in June.
“The good news is that we’re going to have more resources than previously,” said Jeffco Schools Superintendent Jason Glass at the board’s May 3 meeting.
The funding increase is in part due to a decision by state legislators to buy down the budget stabilization factor (also known as the negative factor) this year, which increases education funding across the state.
In Jeffco, that means an an additional $4.1 million for charter schools, and $33.5 million for neighborhood and option schools.
$6 million added to school budgets
Kathleen Askelson, Jeffco Schools chief financial officer, recommended using some of the additional funds to continue funding a $3.7 million addition to student based budgeting (SBB). In 2017-18, schools received the additional $3.7 million SBB increase but only as one-time funds. In addition, Askelson recommended adding another $2.3 million ongoing based on new equity factors to SBB.
SBB allows schools to determine spending priorities, within district parameters, with support from their school accountability committees.
Budget includes more money for compensation, facilities
Another $14.8 million is currently allocated as a placeholder for employee compensation. That amount is part of a tentative agreement with Jeffco employees, said Amy Weber, Jeffco Schools chief human resources officer.
Weber said the tentative agreement included steps and levels plus a 3 percent cost of living increase for all teachers. The tentative budget also includes an increase for long-term substitutes, Askelson said.
Jeffco School Board members also asked staff to increase funding for facilities and maintenance to $1 million for 2018-19.
Board members said they would like to see even more done to address compensation and deferred maintenance.
“I’m concerned that we are not putting enough funding into starting on that problem,” said board member Brad Rupert. Board member Ali Lasell said she would prefer to see $2 million go to capital transfer to address facility needs.
Lasell added that employee compensation still hasn’t caught up, and Jeffco’s pay lags behind that of neighboring districts.
Changes made to stabilize the Public Employee Retirement Association, (PERA), were not expected to affect the budget as of May 3, Askelson said.
Jeffco School Board member Amanda Stevens said she would also like to do more for substitute teachers and bus drivers in the future.
“We are not forgetting and this continues to be a long-term need,” Stevens said.
Jeffco staff will present final budget numbers at the Jeffco School Board meeting on June 7. Board members will vote to approve the budget at that time.