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2010 $12M mill levy override
Reductions for 10-11
Previous budget cuts
Cuts and elections
School Finance Basics
State and Local Funding
State funding comparisons
5-year averaging
The "Funding Cliff"
LPS Board approves budget for 2011–2012

Mill levy funds will be critical to long-term financial stability in LPS

Thanks to the generous support of the Littleton Public Schools’ community, the mill levy election to increase funding to LPS in the annual amount of $12 million passed. The funds will be used to help maintain the very things the community values most in its schools:
• Maintain class size
• Maintain adequate numbers of well-qualified teachers
• Continue to provide a well-rounded education to all students, which includes art, music, and PE
• Continue to provide a safe environment for our students and employees
• Keep the level of excellence for preparation for success in college and the workplace
 
It was said from the beginning that mill levy funds are not a cure-all of LPS’ budget woes. Previous cuts are not likely to be restored. The funding will, however, allow LPS to stabilize and maintain what is currently in place.
 
Indeed, passage of 3A was critical to the district’s ability to stabilize and maintain what is currently in place, as the Colorado Legislature recently passed the largest funding cuts to public education in Colorado’s history for next school year. Each LPS student will receive nearly $500 less in state funding for his or her education in 2011–2012 than in 2010–2011. Combined with other uncontrollable cost increases such as the loss of federal stimulus funds and increasing insurance and pension costs, LPS will experience a shortfall of about $6.5 million for 2011–2012 compared to 2010–2011. It’s important to remember that this shortfall is in addition to the $14 million in cuts LPS has made to its general fund budget in the last three years because of the failing state and national economies and in turn Colorado’s inability to adequately fund K–12 education. Had the mill levy election not passed, LPS would be eliminating more than $6 million-worth of jobs and programs again for next year in addition to the $14 million that has already been cut in the last three years. The education of every LPS student would have suffered.
 
“We have always felt that there is no better place to be than in LPS, and passage of 3A is just another example of how this community takes care of its own and places a high value on what is best for future generations,” said LPS Board President Bob Colwell. “We are so blessed to serve this wonderful school district and these wonderful people. Thank you so much for passing 3A and for helping LPS keep its tradition of excellence.”
 
 About half of the new mill levy money will have to be used to backfill the hole left by these state budget cuts. That means that only half of the mill levy funds will remain to help stabilize the district and maintain the current level of excellence in programming and staffing. It is clear that, due to state budget cuts, the mill levy funds will not stretch as long into the future as was hoped. In fact, it is anticipated that if state funding cuts continue, the mill levy funds could last three years or less.
 

 

Mill levy provides unique opportunity to address critical needs in key areas

Because of the timing of the election and property tax collections, about $11.5 million in mill levy funds will also be collected in the remainder of the 2010–2011 budget year. Because these funds are not earmarked in the current year’s budget, there is an opportunity to begin to replenish fund balances that were depleted in previous state budget cuts. There is also an opportunity to build a bridge to the future so that critical needs in key areas are not neglected and the things the community values most in its schools can be maintained in the future:
 
Replace $3 million of the depleted general fund reserves.
Currently reserves are at historically low levels because they had to be tapped to backfill several mid-year cuts from the state in recent years. History has proven that the state cannot be counted on to fully fund the Colorado School Finance Act as it is passed each year by the Colorado Legislature. Replacing some of the depleted reserve funds would give the Board of Education more flexibility to absorb further state cuts in the future. More is needed in reserves, but $3 million will help until more reserves can be replaced.
 
Keep LPS in compliance with Colorado Law.
Passage of Senate Bills 163 and 212 require Colorado school districts to implement the state’s new curriculum standards and a corresponding teacher training plan for continued student academic success and preparation for the 21st century work environment. In the past, the curriculum revision process addressed one content area at a time. However, the new Colorado Academic Standards require implementation of the new curriculum in 10 areas all at the same time. These areas include: mathematics; physical education and comprehensive health; drama and theatre arts; music; reading, writing, communicating; science; social studies; visual arts; world languages; and dance. Teachers need time for training and curriculum development. School districts must shoulder these costs themselves, and this will cost LPS about $1.1 million. It is important to know that these costly, unfunded mandates were passed into law and then passed along to local districts to fund and implement during a time of unprecedented state budget cuts.
 
Replace aging technology systems for student use in school libraries, and replace special education programs that are essential to keeping LPS in compliance with state and federal laws.
School library systems, which manage an inventory of 360,000 materials and are used by all teachers and students in the district, are currently 20 years old and are no longer supported by the manufacturer. In addition, the state will no longer allow LPS to use its current special education reporting software to submit data that is required by law. Replacement of these two critical systems is estimated to be $300,000.
 
Continue to develop interventions for students with the greatest needs.
This requires $400,000.
 
Backfill depleted escrow accounts.
The opportunity to escrow or “set-aside” funds for significant expenditures over time comes along only after a local election has been passed. All previously escrowed funds for curriculum and technology refresh set aside after passage of the 2004 mill levy election ran out in 2009. There is no funding currently set aside for these critical areas of need. A backfill of depleted escrow accounts for future expenditures in curriculum between $3.34 million and $7 million, and technology by another $3.34 million will build a bridge to support the district’s necessary student instructional resources refresh cycle.
 
LPS Board of Education members say this approach is fiscally conservative while allowing for some flexibility in the future. It addresses the Board’s Strategic Plan and also meets voters’ expectations. The Board places a high priority on transparency and therefore will revisit the spending plan several times a year during each quarterly financial update. “The state’s funding cuts over the past three years have led us to this point,” said LPS Superintendent Scott Murphy. “It’s important that we now take this opportunity to do what we can to ensure excellence into the future.”
 

 

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