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Potential budget cuts take shape as D-11 awaits final numbers

By: KRISTINA IODICE
April 13, 2011
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The Colorado Springs School District 11 board got a preview of next year's budget and needed cuts Wednesday night.

Superintendent Nicholas Gledich prefaced the presentation by saying that he is waiting on updated numbers from the state to finalize his recommendations. A proposal moving through the state Legislature would reduce overall K-12 education funding cuts from $375 million to $250 million.

District officials had started working toward about $13 million in cuts, looking into furlough days, increasing class size and school reconfigurations. Fees for students involved in athletics are also on the list.

Gledich decided Friday to eliminate one concept from his list. Shifting sixth grades to elementaries at westside schools and creating a seventh and eight-grade center at Holmes Middle School would generate minimal savings, officials said, and many parents were opposed to the idea.

Trimming duplicate staffing at West Middle and West Elementary schools is being considered.

Creating K-2 and 3-5 centers "where appropriate" also was taken out of consideration, because it would have costs the first year as opposed to savings.

Another proposal introduced Wednesday night by District 11 Finance Director Glenn Gustafson could yield about $1 million in savings by creating a part-time labor pool. Savings would come from reducing pay and benefits. The "mostly" at-will employees would not receive sick time or other kinds of leave.

Retired or part-time teachers and educational support staff, professionals and others would work up to 140 days, Gustafson said. A flexible schedule and meaningful part-time employment are selling points, he said.

The Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) gains with the plan since it would receive full employee-employer pension contributions with little or no pension obligation, he said.

A list of ideas, grouped into themes will be discussed at length at next week's budget work session at 6 p.m. April 20.

Gledich said staff members would put together more detailed information for board members than what was briefly covered at Wednesday's board meeting.

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