Boulder Valley School District leaders described funding for public education in Colorado as “a complex challenge” in the proposed budget for the 2022-2023 school year, highlighting declining enrollment, rising costs, labor shortages and lackluster legislation as complicating factors.
Chief Financial Officer Bill Sutter presented the proposed $425 million budget to the Board of Education at a regular business meeting Tuesday.
Sutter prefaced the 280 page document with a letter of transmittal to Superintendent Rob Anderson, noting the financial hurdles facing the school district.
“Declining enrollment, when combined with rising costs due to very high inflation levels, labor shortages, and the inability of the legislature to make meaningful new investments in PK-12 public education, has created a conundrum for the future,” Sutter wrote.
“This situation is largely due to Colorado’s constitutional thicket of conflicting requirements and constraints regarding the investment in public services for all of Colorado’s residents. The Boulder Valley School District is managing its operations in the near term, though priorities set by elected state officials for investing state resources continue to create budget challenges and dilemmas for the future regarding funding the services of public education,” he continued.
The proposed budget includes $17 million more for staff compensation; $12.5 million for additional school staff, programs, instructional materials and student support; $4.3 million for facility improvements, custodial services and building maintenances; and $2.2 million for “inflation pressures in food costs, maintenance materials, software and utilities,” according to Sutter.
The school district is receiving $10.4 million less in state funding than it should due to the “negative factor,” a budget tool created by the legislature after the 2009 financial crisis.
“Following years of constrained state funding, it remains a significant challenge for the district to maintain current programs, continue to address critical needs in the areas of increasing the proficiency level of all students, addressing the social-emotional needs of students, and maintaining district operations in 63 facilities on over 700 acres, distributed across 500 square miles,” Sutter wrote in the proposed budget.
The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget in June.