Schools begin process to cut $1 million from budgets

Responding to indications that state appropriations will be cut, the San Juan School District has begun the process of cutting operating budgets by at least one million dollars for the coming school year.
At the March 2 school board meeting, approximately $750,000 in cuts were identified. Additional cuts will be made as the legislative season nears its final days and state budgets are finalized.
“I am confident that $1 million is the minimum that we will need to cut,” said district business manager Clayton Holt. “In the end, the actual cuts may need to be more.”
The district has been told to anticipate at least a three percent cut, which translates to $1 million. If budgets are cut an additional two percent, the district will need to cut an additional $500,000 in expenditures.
The schools cut $1.5 million in budgetary expenditures during the previous budget cycle.
“We have approved these cuts now because schools need to know what to plan on,” said Superintendent Doug Wright.
The approved cuts include raising the student teacher ratio at each school in the district by one student. It is anticipated that the cut will reduce a total of three teachers in secondary schools and will save approximately $255,750.
In addition, a science teacher position that is currently open at Navajo Mountain High School will not be replaced. The district intends to expand the number of distance-education classes for students at the remote school at Navajo Mountain. Enrollment at the school is less than 30 students. This cut will save an additional $55,000.
Staffing will be reduced in the district business office, saving an additional $41,300.
A $400,000 annual payment for early retirees will be paid from reserve funds instead of from operating budgets. There are two years remaining on the annual payment, which was made necessary when the district changed retirement programs several years ago.
The board also instructed the administration to identify an additional $250,000 in cuts that will be finalized in future meetings. Cutting expenditures for extracurricular activities will be considered. Total district contributions to extra curricular activities totaled approximately $800,000 in the current year.
With the legislative season winding down, officials are still unsure what the final education appropriation will be.
In addition to news from the legislature, the state board of education may be considering a cut in the school year. It is estimated that each day cut from the current 180-day school year could result in a $150,000 cut in expenditures.

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