Debates over charters schools and kindergarten funding created tension over the adoption of the 2014-2015 budget.
On June 19, the Jefferson County Board of Education majority (John Newkirk, Julie Williams and Ken Witt) voted 3-2 to adopt the $1 …
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On June 19, the Jefferson County Board of Education majority (John Newkirk, Julie Williams and Ken Witt) voted 3-2 to adopt the $1 billion budget for the 2014-2015 school year. Led by the majority, the board made two key changes, giving an additional $4.8 million to the teacher compensation placeholder and $1.85 million to charter school equalization, prior to adopting the budget.
This year, Jeffco’s budget received a 3.2 percent increase from last year’s $952 million.
Moving into this next school year, the district will spend nearly $650 million for general fund expenditures and other uses, which is an increase of approximately $25 million from last year. Of that, approximately 79 percent of the general fund is used toward compensation, which with the additional $4.8 million given toward a 2.5 percent step increase for teachers, totals $520,420,700.
“They (the board majority) came back on the $18.2 (million) for compensation,” said board member Lesley Dahlkemper on the evening’s budget discussion. “I was ready to make a motion on that placeholder to $18.2, and that’s why it was terrific when Mr. Newkirk brought that forward.”
The negotiated agreement between the Jefferson County Educators Association and the district is currently in the fact-finding process. In the agreement, negotiators wanted to see a step increase for all teachers, but the board majority wished to see performance measures applied prior, only offering raises to highly effective teachers. This measure increases the total compensation placeholder to $18.2 million from $13.4 million, which includes step increases for both educators and certified school employees.
Along with compensation increases, the majority also proposed increasing charter school funding, increasing per-pupil funding closer to what other students in the district are funded at. For the 2014-2015 school year, charter schools will receive an additional $5.5 million, and more than $60 million in the general fund expenditures overall, an increase of nearly $7 million from the 2013-2014 school year.
The board also voted 3-2 to not fund free full-day kindergarten or reduce kindergarten class sizes. The board members said lack of district-specific study on the effects of full-day kindergarten played into their decision. District staff said that the current feasibility of reducing kindergarten class sizes was unknown.
Among the charter school equalization and teacher compensation, the board also placed around $3.8 million towards primary math and literacy goals.
“I’m delighted that through this year we’ve been able to direct funding towards early literacy, early math, equalization of funding for every student of public schools in Jeffco and I’m delighted with the budget outcome,” Board president Ken Witt said. “It takes a lot of work, it takes impassioned people focusing on what they believe the priorities ought to be and coming together and eventually arriving at the right answers and the right conclusions.”
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