Hayden schools see funds drop | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden schools see funds drop

Gary E. Salazar

— With another expected decline in enrollment, Hayden school officials are uncertain how they will deal with an expected loss of $25,000.

With a budget that has already received its fair share of monetary cuts, school officials are uncertain if they can reduce the district’s $4.1 million budget even more.

“We are not sure at this point what we will do,” Superintendent Scott Mader said. “We have made some pretty hefty cuts already.”

The district stands to lose about $25,000 because enrollment for the third year in a row decreased. Preliminary counts show the district’s enrollment is down by about 25 students.

How the district plans to address the issue will be discussed at tonight’s School Board meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. at the administration office, 495 Jefferson Ave.

“I am going to have to ask the board about what we want to do,” Mader said.

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Options the district have is cut the budget or wait until next year to account for the loss, Mader said.

What decision the School Board make will not be an easy one, School Board President Kathy Hockin said.

“We have cut every area,” Hockin said. “It has been painful and at times grueling.”

Because of enrollment loss from the past two years, the district had to cut two teaching positions, which resulted in the loss of a high school social studies teacher.

“This summer the administration worked hard and so did the School Board,” Hockin said. “This is something we are still working on. We have to be fiscally responsible.”

The reason for the expected loss is because the district stands to lose funding because of the enrollment decline.

The district will not lose funding for all 25 students but will lose funding based on the average of the enrollment from the past four years.

“If we didn’t have the four-year average, I don’t know where we would be,” Mader said.

Aiding the district are the enrollments from the past three years.

For the 1998 school year, the district had an enrollment of 554 students. In 1999, enrollment decreased to 520 students. Last year, enrollment dropped to 478 students.

This fall the enrollment has fallen to 453 students. The decline has occurred at the elementary and high school levels.

According to district counts, the elementary school has an enrollment of 213 students, which is a decrease of 22 students compared to last year.

The high school’s enrollment is 124, which is eight students less than last year.

At the middle school, the enrollment is at 116 students, which is an increase of five.

“The enrollment is what I expected,” Hockin said. “We graduated a big class, and the incoming class is small.”

If the district decides to cut the budget, it will be difficult to do, Mader said.

“It would be difficult to go back and cut $25,000,” he said. “Schools are already starting to live within their budgets. We can always go back and cut more, but it will be tough to do.”

School officials are hopeful the district’s enrollment will level off by next year, because the district will no longer be able to use the 1998 enrollment for state funding purposes.

Come next year, without the 1998 enrollment, Mader is estimating the district will lose close to $160,000 next year.

To prepare for the expected loss, the district moved forward this summer by making cuts to its teaching force, which is saving the district about $70,000.

A vacant elementary special-education position was not filled and a high school social studies teacher position held by Don Toy was cut.

The district has also made cuts to capital improvement projects and is using those funds for general operations.