by Bill Knowles
AGUILAR- The Aguilar School Board began putting together their budget on Monday, May 23, during a workshop. They are faced with a $163,000 shortfall in their budget for the 2011-2012 school year,
After a large number of resignations, including the district’s superintendent, and retirements along with some non-renewals of contracts—the proposed 2011-2012 school year budget shows revenues for the General Fund topping $2.171 million.
Expenditures from the General Fund may be $2.107 million leaving a possible beginning balance in for the 2012-2013 school year of around $64,000, down about 90 percent from the beginning balance of $600,000 in 2010-2011. The beginning balance for the 2009-2010 school year was around $749,000.
Five resignations or retirements earlier this month have left the high school with five teachers. A non-renewal of the contract for Frank Coppa the Athletic Director has chopped off the athletic program. Also dropped is the school’s Vocational-Technical program.
The Targeted District Improvement Plan (TDIP) is a partnership between the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the Aguilar School District with the stated goal of working together in partnership to improve the district’s student achievement. Funding is used to help the school achieve its goals, improve quality of education, and systematize the district as a whole and is awarded as a $500,000 grant over three years.
One of the goals in the TDIP program was to better the communication between the board and the district’s teachers. This goal and several others were not achieved and that failure will cut into the amount of funding available to the district by $100,000 to $150,000 for the coming school year.
The proposed budget for 2011-2012, is structured on a student enrollment count of 77 students which is down from 112 students who enrolled at the start of the school year. The current enrollment is around 92 students and administration is anticipating 15 more students will not be enrolled for the coming year.
The school is facing an exodus of students, teachers and administrative staff. The loss of the athletic program along with turnovers in staff and administration as well as mounting parental frustration with the current board of education have been cited as reasons for the declining enrollment.
The Concerned Citizens Committee and the Superintendent, JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler, have requested during the past month that the board look into acquiring a surety bond needed by the board’s secretary and treasurer in order to be in compliance with Colorado law.
CRS 22-32-104 states that the bond, in the amount of $5,000 is required. It is also prescribed in the the bylaws of the board of education. The bonding process usually involves background checks and fingerprinting of the applicants. Current board members couldn’t recall if the board had ever complied with the law on this matter.
Failure to acquire a surety bond is not only against the law but will also hurt the district’s ability to qualify for grants and other forms of funding.
The Concerned Citizens Committee has also requested action on the establishment of authorized signatures giving certain board members, along with the district’s finance manager, the authority to sign checks for bills incurred by the district. Currently there are no authorized signature cards on file with the bank.
The board will hold a regular meeting on June 20, in the board room at Aguilar School to approve the proposed budget.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward