by Bill Knowles
LA VETA- Current enrollment numbers for La Veta schools are above the state average for the school indicated by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).
The number of funded students the state is showing is 194.5, based on a five-year average. As of Sept. 12, the actual student count was 233.7 with a five-year average starting with the 2006-2007 school year set at 208.5.
However the school is waiting for a state audit on the numbers. “We have to keep very tight records of the number of students we serve on a daily basis throughout the month. We have to document our head count,” Superintendent Bree Lessar said.
The school has been asked to return funds amounting to $80,980.33 to the state. A CDE audit over the past two years which examined student head count and transportation over the past five years caught the funding discrepancy. The 2012 budget has allocated money for paying back the funds.
The CDE will then analyze what it is going to fund based on the average head count and make adjustments according to the actual head count and then cut the school a check. This is called equalization with amendments to the budget ranging as far out as Dec. 31.
Even with the higher student enrollment, the school board voted to trim the Junior High School sports program by cutting in half the number of games the teams will play. Along with a reduction in the number of games played, there will be an increase in the amount of time spent in practices with each practice being expanded to 90 minutes.
“With clothing changes and warm ups, the student-athletes will have a full 70 minutes of practice rather then the 40 or so minutes they’ve had in the past. This will assure they are well trained for the contests. However, La Veta schools are more about academics then athletics,” Lessar said.
Funding for public education in Huerfano County as well as across the state is now awaiting a judge’s decision in Lobato vs. the State of Colorado. Arguments were closed on Friday, Sept. 9, putting the decision into the hands of Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport. She doesn’t expect to rule on the case for at least another month.
The core of the case involves funding of education in the state. The case emphasizes that the state’s funding of its schools is inadequate. The suit alleges the state has failed to provide a “thorough and uniform” free education in public schools, which the Colorado Constitution guarantees.
A ballot measure, seeking to increase taxes to 1999 levels for five years to help ease the state’s budget woes will be on the November ballot. And if passed, Proposition 103, will raise about $2.9 billion for Colorado public schools over the life of the proposition.
If passed, the proposition would raise funds for public schools by increasing the state’s income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5 percent. It would also increase the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3 percent starting Jan. 1. The La Veta School Board stopped short of endorsing the ballot measure though they are in favor of Proposition 103.
The next La Veta School Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26, at the La Veta High School Library starting at 5:30 pm.