School Budget Faces Shortfalls
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By: Joey Huckaby
Do you ever wonder how Wheat Ridge spends the money it gets from the district?
Wheat Ridge High School, along with the other 17 high schools in Jeffco, receives money based off of School Based Budgeting (SBB). SBB is a practice that was adapted by Jeffco in the 2015-16 school year. The idea is that a certain amount of money will move with each student every year.
“A total of about $4,300 is spent per student a year, more is spent for at risk students,” said principal Griff Wirth. Wirth is in charge of how the money is spent at Wheat Ridge along with the Accountability Committee. The Accountability Committee consists of Wirth,science teacher Toni Budoff, social studies teacher Arik Heim, six parents, and one community member.
Due to the consequences of SBB and 3A and 3B not passing, WRHS is being forced to layoff staff for the 2017-18 school year. When asked about how many teachers will be affected Wirth said, “We are trying to keep it at five staff members.”
The reason for the announced layoff is because the school’s enrollment numbers were too low to the equivalent of losing 100 students. Wirth believes the reason why the numbers are so low is due to rising living cost in Wheat Ridge and increasing mobility rate, and low choice enrollment. In all, Wheat Ridge lost $430,000 in funding, thus forcing the newly announced layoffs.
Wirth also noted that the layoffs will include a mix of experienced and inexperienced teachers. Wirth and the Accountability Committee had the option to cut teachers during the middle of the 2016-17 school year, but decided not to. He made the decision to delay the cuts until next year because the classes would move and everyone’s schedules would be changed mid year.
SBB has and will continue to affect Wheat Ridge High School for years to come. When asked how students, parents and faculty can get more money into Wheat Ridge, Wirth said, “Know what you’re voting for and talk to your state representatives about repealing the TABOR Amendment, and Gallagher Amendment.” Wirth also pointed out that as long as our state uses Negative Factor to decide how much money the school districts get, there will continue to be an $80 million shortage for Jeffco.
The TABOR Amendment 1992, is The Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The Amendment forces tax increases to be approved by the voters. An example of TABOR being enforced was the 3A and 3B vote. Before TABOR and The Gallagher Amendment districts could automatically increase mills to cover for budget shortage without a vote. In the end, the passing of TABOR and Gallagher requires local and county Governments have to cover budget shortages.
Wheat Ridge will have to layoff five members of our staff. The list of staff affected will be announced on Mar. 1st 2017. With the cuts, class sizes will remain under thirty students. Community members have been encouraging people to contact their state representative and push for education plans and address the concerns about TABOR and The Gallagher Amendment.