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Rockwood School District: 'Picture' Less Financial Backing

LAST CHANCE TO SUBMIT FEEDBACK: For many years, Rockwood School District leaders have used bond funds to pay for ongoing maintenance. But that source of funding came to abrupt halt once the April bond issue failed.

Is Rockwood School District's financial future really a case of comparing "apples and oranges"? It was lately, with today (Friday, Dec. 14) being the last day to submit feedback regarding the district's situational and strategic comparison—all while facing a $5.1 million budget deficit.

After comparing the proposed apple versus orange pictures, or scenarios that resulted from the past several months of a community engagement initiative, of Rockwood's potential future, feedback can be submitted a variety of ways:

Both Apple and Orange pictures/scenarios include the district eliminating about $1 million from the operating budget for the coming school year. But, the proposals suggest tax increases that would raise revenue over that of the 2012-13 school year by:

  1. $30.9 million annually for operations under "Apple."
  2. $36 million in new revenue for operations under "Orange."

"Apple" reflects a variety of capital improvements that would be paid for through a $39 million bond issue. The list includes replacing roofs, flooring and electrical systems; replacing locker rooms to accommodate usage and to meet code and ADA requirements; renovating multipurpose fields at Lafayette and Rockwood Summit high schools; installing artificial turf at the four high school stadium fields; building new student health services offices; and building or renovating classrooms at some elementary schools and the early childhood center.

Some of the bond issue projects have been carried over from a $43.2 million capital improvement bond issue that was voted down in April.

The "Orange" proposal would raise full-day kindergarten tuition by $110 per child annually. Including the application fee, the annual cost now is $3,625 per child. Facilities maintenance under "Orange" would be blended into the general operating budget but there would be no capital improvements.

See previous article for more details:

Both "Apple" and "Orange" scenarios contain technology upgrades formerly in the bond issue. Both proposals list $5.4 million for replacement of obsolete laptop and desktop computers and infrastructure improvements so students can use their own personal computing devices. The upgrades would be included in the bond issue in the Apple proposal, while in the Orange proposal the improvements would be part of the tax hike.

Both plans set aside money to hire and retain more teachers, administrators and support staff; reduce class sizes; and provide increased academic intervention and support for struggling students.

What Rockwood Administrators and Board Of Education Directors Just Communicated:

During the Dec. 6 Rockwood Board of Education meeting, district administrators shared what they called the current realities of school district finances, and proposed ways to balance the budget. 

Rockwood Board of Education directors received an update on the FY14 Proposed Budget. For the 2013-2014 school year, Rockwood now projects a $5.1 million deficit. In addition, board members were presented a list of proposed budget recommendations that total almost $10.4 million. These recommendations address the deficit and provide for increases in the following areas: summer school; professional development for teachers to implement the state-mandated common core academic standards, and some additional funding for the maintenance of facilities and technology.

The proposed 20-item budget recommendation list includes reductions in a variety of areas, including the following:

  • District-level departments’ supplies and services budgets
  • Staffing, which affects administrators, support staff and teachers
  • Bus transportation, which increases the distance for providing bus transportatiom from a half mile to an estimated distance of 1.5 miles
  • Increased class sizes
  • Center for Creative Learning, which would eliminate the kindergarten component and increase class sizes in gifted education at the elementary level

Rockwood Superintendent Bruce Borchers said staff reductions will occur over a two-year period. “Each year, we have Rockwood employees who resign or retire. We hope to help our teachers and staff members find positions in the district that become open due to attrition or the non-renewal of one year contracts.” 

Board and Rockwood Cabinet members are scheduled to continue discussions on balancing the FY14 budget, as well as the proposed recommendation list, during the coming months with final approval of next year’s budget in June 2013.

Mark Schmiedeskamp December 14, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Rockwoods needs more money? My what a surprise. I wish I could understand how renovating fields and installing artificial turf has anything to do with academics. Maybe Borchers should hire another of his "consultant" cronies to explain the connection.

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