- Why is the Eagle County Schools Board of Education placing a Mill Levy Override Bond on the 2020 Ballot?
- What are some of the anticipated benefits of the extension of the mill levy override?
- How much is the State of Colorado currently funding Eagle County Schools?
- How much additional local funding is provided to the school district from property taxes?
- What has the District already done to balance its budget and live within its means?
- Has the District used its reserves to address funding needs, and what is the current condition of those reserves?
- When was the last time the District placed a Mill Levy Override measure on the ballot?
Why is the Eagle County Schools Board of Education placing a Mill Levy Override Bond on the 2020 Ballot?
- 5B continues the funding from 3A passed in 2016 that is critical to keeping Eagle County Schools financially secure and viable. 3A originally helped backfill state budget cuts stemming from the 2008 recession. The district had not yet rebounded to pre-recession funding levels when COVID-19 happened, causing a new recession that is projected to cut ECS funding by 8 to 9 million dollars a year for another decade.
- Combined with equally unpredictable enrollment projections as the community recovers from COVID-19, it is more urgent than ever to continue the funding stability that 5B provides.
- State legislators have proven time and again that educational funding has to come from local support. Local taxpayers directly see the benefit investment in local schools provide, and are thus more supportive of local solutions as compared to state-level initiatives.
- Supporting 5B and continuing the existing funding of the mill levy allows the district to continue supporting the key tenets of excellent schools:
- Recruiting and retaining quality teachers – we’ve reduced teacher turnover by offering compensation that is competitive with area districts.
- Improving the social and emotional mental health of our students – we’ve added counselors and improved our counselor-to-student ratios, plus provided engaging professional development for staff and students to better recognize when students are struggling and provide faster assistance.
- Maintaining updated learning materials and reliable technology to support quality education in the classroom and online – we’ve worked to improve student equity pertaining to access and use of technology.
- Creating safe and healthy learning environments through a combination of improved physical security, increased culturally responsive instructional practices, and updated support of the physical and mental health of students.
- Collectively, this results in students who are better prepared for a career or college after high school.
With 6,731 students here in Eagle County Schools based on the October 2019 count figures, we receive $8,767 per pupil funding from the state, well below the national average of $11,841.
- Per state law, school districts cannot collect locally (via a MLO) more than 25% of total program funds for that district. Eagle County Schools currently collects 295 mills, which equates to 13.8% of total program funding.
- By comparison, the Roaring Fork School District, which is approximately the same size as Eagle County Schools, collects 25% of available MLO funding.
- Once COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, district leadership grasped the likely financial consequences of the pandemic.
- We reduced departmental and school-level budgets an average of 20%
- We consolidated June Creek Elementary School with Avon Elementary and Edwards Elementary school
- We left open non-teaching positions unfilled
- We revised policy to allow us to spend into our fund balance while maintaining a reserve balance of 10% of our budget
- We applied for and received CARES and ESSER aid to offset rising expenses due to COVID-19, which helped soften SY20-21 cuts from the state
- Eagle County Schools has won budgeting awards for its financial management and transparency. We publish all of our financial documentation on the district website: eagleschools.net/finance
Has the District used its reserves to address funding needs, and what is the current condition of those reserves?
- Yes. During the Great Recession, the District spent heavily out of the reserve to soften the blow of the massive cuts that schools received. During that time, the reserve dropped from over $16 million per year to the previous year’s level of $10.7 million.
- The Board of Education revised policy to maintain a cash reserve of at least 10% of our total budget (about $95 million) to account for unforeseen budget shocks or catastrophes.
- This allowed us to spend below the previous policy limit of $10 million OR 10%, whichever is greater.
- The district’s operational budget (what we use to run schools) is about $65 million per year and our total budget (including all funds) is about $95 million per year.
- We allocated about $2 million from cash reserves to help cover expenses without reducing staff for SY20-21.
In 2016, voters passed the 3A Mill Levy Override that 5B seeks to continue.