With the Summit School District facing an
estimated $800,000 deficit in a $30 million 2010-11 operating
budget, community leaders and educators have been wrestling with
difficult decisions about where reductions to programs and
staff would represent the least impact on educational quality for
the 3,000 students under their care.
To encourage creative approaches to PK-12
education funding, Our Future Summit hosted an April 22 roundtable
that drew upon the counsel of school board members Margaret Carlson
and Brad Piehl, local teachers’ union representative Mark Clark,
assistant school superintendent Karen Strakbein as well as a number
of concerned parents and citizens.
The Colorado School Finance Act requires an
equitable distribution of state and local tax revenue regardless
of district location. Budget cuts at the state level have meant a
reduction in per pupil public investment from $7,541 to $7,100.
Thanks to sound financial planning, our district has lowered an
anticipated $1.4 million shortfall by one third.
The school board has considered and tabled both
elementary school consolidation and a four day school week as cost
cutting measures. While most elementary schools in the county lack
the 300 pupil enrollment needed for optimum efficiency, the board
recognizes the important contribution of neighborhood facilities to
a sense of community and place. Likewise, a four day academic
scenario would not realize enough efficiency to warrant the
disruption to school family schedules.
An increased role for volunteers in providing
tutoring, mentoring and administrative services was one suggestion
participants felt the community could embrace with enthusiasm.
When the subject shifted to ways to generate
additional revenue, the recent formation of a grassroots private
investment movement, the Summit Education Foundation (SEF), stimulated
a lively discussion.
Initiated by a group of concerned Breckenridge
parents, the organization, which is modeled after several other
education foundations in Colorado, provides a means to inject
private funds into public education. For example, the Aspen
Educational Foundation (www.aspenaef.org)
, which was established in 1991, has provided a total of $4.6
million to fund teacher positions, educational programs,
professional development, classroom grants, student awards and
teacher recognition. SEF
spokesman Chris Renner says the organizing committee plans a series
of neighborhood coffee and dessert receptions to seek public input
in advance of a public launch scheduled for May 20.
Those interested in learning more about the foundation may
contact Renner at 970-453-0708 firstname.lastname@example.org