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Cortez school board approves $18.5 million budget

District will release ‘Citizens Guide to the Budget’
The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District Board held a daylong retreat at the First National Bank of Cortez on Jan. 8.

The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District board adopted their annual budget on Dec. 19.

The district has a balanced budget for 2017-2018, which means there is enough money in the general fund, that in case of emergency, schools could be funded for three months, as recommended by the state.

“Through cutting budgets over the last few years, we have been able to build that healthy fund balance back up, and this budget is really the first budget where the available fund balance actually hit that healthy fund balance goal,” Carla Hoehn, Re-1 director of finance said.

The “healthy budget” was also made possible by a rural school funding allocation by the state to help address the shortage in Colorado funding, according to Re-1 Superintendent Lori Haukeness. The district expects this was a “one time thing.”

“For the district and the charter schools it (the state allocation) was $472,252, so that was a tremendous help last year,” Hoehn said.

The state determines individual school funding through a system known as an “October count.”

State funding per pupil in the district is decided through this count.

“You always have to wait and see what your revenue is going to be for the year,” Hoehn said. “That is dictated by the state, and we know the governor has his preliminary budget, but that goes through changes, and most of the time we do not find out (about changes) until the end of the legislative session. So we have to make an educated guess about what we think they are going to do and then we budget accordingly.”

According to Hoehn, the Funded Pupil Count in 2017 was 2,717.50 and 2,705.50 in 2018.

Revenue in the district general fund is expected to be about $18.5 million for 2018. The district’s beginning fund balance for 2018 is $6.7 million.

About $17.9 million, or 96 percent, of the $18.5 million is budgeted for expenditures, including district operating expenses.

The district will allocate about $2.15 million to charter schools.

The ending fund balance will be about $4.84 million, but $850,000 will be reserved for TABOR, and $1.56 million will be reserved for Kinder Morgan.

The district’s full budget is available Online.

“Transparency is very important to our superintendent and board, and they have tasked our communications team with finding new and better ways to share budget information with the public,” Hoehn wrote in an email to The Journal.

The goal of the district is to publish the Citizens Guide to the Budget on Feb. 1 and to produce an updated guide with each budget in the future.

“The Citizens Guide to the Budget will help explain some basic facts about school finance as well as summarize our current budget in an easy to understand format,” Hoehn wrote in an email. “The guide also includes general information about our district such as size, student demographic, number of staff by category, etc.”

This article was reposted on Jan. 23 to correct the figure for the per pupil funding.