The Boulder Valley School District Board of Education met on Tuesday, May 19, to get an update on the budget and to consider guiding principles that will help to direct district staff, if budget reductions are necessary.
Last week, as budget discussions began with Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee, Legislative Council Staff and Office of State Planning and Budget things appeared to be dire. The state, which had been expecting an increase in funding, was estimating a $3.3 Billion shortfall – which could have meant a devastating impact to BVSD and school districts across Colorado.
With Congress’ passage of the CARES Act and Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ announcement on Monday that he is allocating $500 million to K-12 schools, it appears that the situation could be improving tremendously for Colorado school districts.
Superintendent Rob Anderson and BVSD Chief Financial Officer Bill Sutter provided the update to the board, leading with this news.
“The story that I would have told you last Tuesday and the story we will tell you today are very different. The information is constantly changing,” said Superintendent Rob Anderson at the beginning of the meeting. “The past 24 hours have revealed some very different scenarios.”
“There’s a scenario where next year doesn’t look all that bad, assuming the state doesn’t get a waiver to allow further cuts to K-12 funding,” explained BVSD Chief Financial Officer Bill Sutter. “This is very different from where we were 24 hours ago.”
While Anderson and Board members welcomed the news, he shared that the district will continue to plan for all contingencies, knowing that budget reductions are not off the table.
Under the CARES Act, state governments would be required to fund K-12 education at the same level next year as the average of the prior three years, which would limit cuts to K-12 education in Colorado to approximately $434M, but force the state into even more difficult decisions in other areas of public services. The state can ask for a waiver from that provision, which, if granted, would mean that K-12 education could be cut further.
Regardless, Anderson promised that he and his team will continue to keep everyone updated regarding the situation and the district’s efforts.
“With all the information that is swirling and changing day-by-day we felt like it was really important to keep the board and public informed. We want to be open, honest and transparent as we navigate the 2020-2021 budget process that we are in the midst of.”
MORE INFORMATION: BVSD 2020-21 Budget Planning
Typically BVSD finishes its budget development process in early June, but during the meeting Sutter announced a new timeline, which includes additional time for board study and public comment, before the budget is adopted on June 23.
“We want to make sure that we have as much time as possible to contemplate our options and to make sure that we are being thoughtful as we are going through this process.”
Budget Timeline: 2020-21
May 26 - Board Work Session for Public Comment on the 2020-21 Proposed Budget
May 26 - Regular Board Meeting 2020-21 Proposed Budget Study
June 6 - Regular Board Meeting 2020-21 Proposed Budget Study
June 23 - 2020-21 Proposed Budget Adoption
Budget guiding principles
Additionally, the board adopted the following five guiding principles:
Continue to prioritize work related to the Strategic Plan
Be sensitive to reductions that impact our most vulnerable students/families
Minimize impact to classrooms
Work together with bargaining units to make reductions if needed
Rely on one-time funding and reserves cautiously as this is potentially a multi year recession
“We just wanted some guiding principles so that at the board level, you can guide us on the ‘what’ and then let us figure out the ‘how,’ so we can bring you back a budget for study and action to you,” explained Superintendent Anderson.