When our board adopted our district strategic plan this fall, one of the four overarching priorities was student-centered budgeting.
The strategic plan states that “the district will maintain a sustainable budget that will support student needs, academic priorities and staff salaries.”
As we work together to implement our three-year strategic plan, sustainable student-centered budgeting is at the forefront of my mind and of our board’s efforts.
You may be wondering, what is student-centered budgeting?
Student-centered budgeting is our commitment to ensure that maximum funding goes directly to schools, teachers and student needs.
In fact, in 2017-18, the district spent 78 percent of our funding on schools and teachers; 19 percent on operations such as safety, transportation and facilities; and only 3 percent on administration (RE-1 Citizens’ Guide to the Budget is available on our website).
Approximately 51 percent of the district funding comes from the state, and 41 percent comes from local property taxes.
The board and I are deeply committed to being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and to finding ways to increase teacher salaries in order to ensure that we attract and retain the best teachers.
We know that nothing is more important than teachers when it comes to the education of our students.
We greatly value and appreciate our teachers and the tireless hours they put in to plan engaging lessons for our students, grade homework, make phone calls to parents and sponsor after-school activities and sports.
As the board begins work on our budget for 2019-20, finding ways to increase teacher salaries is our most important financial priority.
We are anxious to see what the state is able to provide in terms of potential increases in funding to provide full-day kindergarten and the state budget for per-pupil funding for education for next year.
Over the next couple of months, the board and I will be exploring all local options for increasing funding for teachers’ salaries as well – from pursuing another mill levy to shifting programming and potentially making cuts in order to provide a raise for our teachers.
My hope is that the district and the community can work together to try to find ways to meet this important goal with our limited resources.
We will need everyone’s input and participation to meet this challenge.
The board meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m., and I invite you to attend. I would also personally invite you to reach out to my office with questions, concerns or ideas
At the end of the day, the board and I deeply believe that nothing is more important than providing our students with an excellent education.
Our students are the future of our community – they will grow to be our neighbors, co-workers, business owners and community leaders.
Providing for this shared future requires that we find ways to invest in our teachers today.
Lori Haukeness is superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.