The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 Board of Education approved the district’s 2017 budget on Tuesday. The board also was told that the cost of asbestos abatement for the retired high school will be about half the preliminary estimate.
A consultant’s more in-depth test of the old Montezuma-Cortez High School building on East Seventh Street revealed the asbestos within the building’s cinder block walls was not as concentrated as previously thought, said Jim Ketter, the district owner’s representative.
Test results have dramatically lowered the cost of asbestos abatement, he said. Preliminary estimates were about $1.2 million, but the cost could be less than half that, Ketter said.
The best-case cost of abatement and demolition is about $1.3 million. The district hopes to award bids by February, and Ketter said the project is expected to take place through the summer.
In the November election, voters authorized the district to use up to $1.8 million that had been reserved for a new stadium for abatement and demolition. The district also has asked the state to apply $418,000 from the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant program toward abatement and demolition. Any money from that amount that is not used for abatement and demolition will be used to upgrade Panther Stadium at Cortez Middle School.
“Our goal is to have as much money left over as possible to upgrade Panther Stadium,” said Jamie Haukeness, Re-1 director of facilities and school safety.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve the 2017 budget.
Revenue in the district general fund is expected to be about $20.82 million for 2017, about $1.2 million less than 2016. The district’s beginning fund balance for 2017 is $5.3 million.
About $17.68 million, or 85 percent, of the $20.82 million is budgeted for expenditures, including district operating expenses. The district will transfer $2.8 million, or 14 percent, to charter schools and just under $800,000, or 4 percent, to other funds, including technology, pupil activity, preschool fund, food services and others.
The ending fund balance will be about $4.83 million, but $760,000 will be reserved for TABOR, and $1.2 million will be reserved for Kinder Morgan.
An audit revealed that the district had an increase in its fund balance of about $447,000 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. That amount will be added to the unreserved fund balance for a total of about $3.29 million. The district can use that amount to balance the budget as needed.
Other board actionsThe board also approved a $4,076 capital reserve expense for automated external defibrillators at Montezuma-Cortez High School and Cortez Middle School. Board members approved a $2,000 donation to the Community Collective Impact initiative, a group that will look at improving the lives of Southwest Colorado kids from cradle to career. They also approved acceptance of a $5,000 grant from Kinder Morgan to M-CHS that will go toward supporting a science lab.
Board members also discussed the renewal of the agreement with Battlerock Charter School. Superintendent Lori Haukeness’s recommendation to the board was to renew the charter for two years with an option to extend for a third year. The board will take a vote on the matter at its meeting in January.
Board members also discussed arming senior administrators with firearms, and decided to research the issue before discussing it further.