Steamboat Springs School District will get $480,000 less than hoped for under school finance bill
Steamboat Springs — Two legislative decisions made this week could have a significant impact on school finance in Colorado, including for the Steamboat Springs School District.
District officials learned Wednesday that the state’s annual school finance bill, introduced Monday, includes a $25 million buy-down of the state’s education funding shortfall, commonly known as the negative factor.
The extra $25 million would mean more funding for Colorado school districts than was provided in the current year, but the amount is far less than the $200 million buy-down proposed late last year by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Senate Bill 267 provides total program education funding and is in addition to base education funding in the annual state budget, Senate Bill 254.
Preliminary budget numbers for the Steamboat Springs School District had presumed the $200 million boost for the 2015-16 budget.
“It knocks down revenue by about $480,000 over what we were expecting,” said Dale Mellor, district finance director. “I don’t know what we’re going to do to mitigate this loss in revenue.”
The $25 million was far less than district officials had hoped for, Mellor said.
“It’s $25 million instead of $200 million,” he said.
Per-pupil funding in the district is forecast to increase from $7,014 this year to $7,275 in 2015-16, but that amount may fluctuate based on state enrollment.
Another bill passed this week in the national legislature will provide some support to Steamboat and rural districts in many other states.
The Secure Rural Schools program was extended for two years Tuesday via a U.S. Senate bill, renewing funding for rural areas that have seen a decrease in timber receipts over the last two decades.
The program, which provided Colorado school districts and counties with $13.4 million in 2014, expired last September.
A bill passed Tuesday means that the Steamboat Springs School District will continue to receive 95 percent of SRS program funds for 2015-16, which Mellor had already written off of preliminary budget estimates.
SRS funds for the current year had provided the district about $90,000.
“I wish that $90,000 was enough to offset what the state legislature is doing, but obviously, it’s not,” Mellor said.
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