January 25, 2017
Dear CT and Loma Families
School Finance – Dull, but Important
Until I win the lottery, money is never fun to talk about this time of year. School funding generally runs in cycles. There are lean years, followed by better years, followed by lean years and so forth. As a small, “Basic Aid/Community Funded” school district, the majority of our resources come from local property taxes. The last few years have seen gains in local property tax revenue for schools as the economy rebounded and the housing market recovered. We have now seen the market slow and the pent up demand quiet down. Our local revenues are no longer growing as they did in the previous cycle.As we continue to add new families moving into the district, there is no automatic state aid to support increased enrollment. It’s like the family dinner table – you make room for one more and serve from what you have. The pizza gets cut into ever narrowing slices. This is the primary reason we generally don’t accept transfer students from other districts. Local tax dollars should be spent to educate local students.
Though a small part of our budget, contributions from the state have been a welcome source of “one-time” funds based on our average daily attendance (ADA - this is when attendance really matters to the bottom line). These targeted funds have helped us invest in infrastructure, classroom technology, temporary class size reduction measures, curricular materials, and more. We use “one-time” money to fund “one-time” costs. From a high of $530/ADA in 2015-16, to half that this year, we anticipate a drop to $48/ADA next year. This represents a drop from $253,494 in 15-16 to 22,700 in 17-18.
The news actually gets worse. Typically, costs go up every year, but there are now new extraordinary costs being passed on to schools by the legislature at a time when our minimal state support is dropping to new lows. Employer contributions to “statutory costs” (unemployment insurance, disability, pension costs, etc.) are rising quickly and are expected to rise to $.30 on the dollar. These are mandated costs with no associated funding to support them. These must be funded with local revenue. Added to this is the uncertainty of our partnership with Lakeside to educate their middle school students. We are struggling, but they are struggling even more.
There remains good news in that we have parcel tax revenue assured for the next several years. At a fixed rate of $314 per parcel exempting seniors and contiguous parcels, this funding buys less and less each year as costs naturally escalate. Our list of “wishes” continues to grow (new fields, more electives, music, art, smaller upper grade class sizes, more library hours, band instruments, and so on) but our revenues do not. This year, for the first time in a while, we are facing contraction in our programs and supports. While no decisions have been made yet, tough decisions lay ahead and your input is important to our processes. I promise to keep you posted.
The Loma Public Education Fund’s KEEP Campaign underwrites many of our “extras” which aren’t really extra (K-8 music, PE at Loma, our libraries, enrichment options, student supports, expanded topics including art and STEM at the middle school). We need your input NOW on the funding priorities. We will need your help SOON to fund a robust campaign that will keep the programs (and people) we cherish. If you have not already done so, please participate in the priority setting process for next year by following this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T9JYR2DYour voice will help sculpt the tiers in which our “extras” are funded. Your contributions will help ensure we don’t lose great programs and great people.
Without a partnership with parents, our small schools would never be as strong as they are. As I often say, “We are small but enthusiastic!” We value solid academics as well as educating beyond the basics. Thanks for learning about how your tax dollars work and weighing in on where your personal investments can best meet the needs of all students.
For more information, please see the attached LPEF flyer.
Kids and Cars in the Parking LotsI love the neighborhood sign that reads, “Drive like your kids live here.” We need one that says, “Drive like your kids go to school here.” We also need one that reads, “Keep track of your kids in this parking lot like you would in town.” We had a parent report a near miss of two small kids running from the lower lot across to the Loma playground unattended at drop off. I saw two very young kids playing unattended at the edge of the lower lot and the pavement in the afternoon. Kids are impulsive and often unfamiliar with traffic. We have literally hundreds of cars through our lots each day. Add to that bad weather, reduced visibility, construction traffic, public meetings, parents from other schools – often driving the wrong way – in our lots for sporting events, etc. Maybe one more sign is in order: “Slow drivers and cautious parents save lives.” Thank you for driving slowly and accompanying your kids in the parking lots.
Theatre In The Mountains Presents:
Theatre in the Mountains’ upcoming Shining Stars production of Wonderland High celebrates the humor and creativity of Lewis Carroll in a rather unusual high school where the tough boys are on the croquet team, the school store sells much more than pens and paper, and things get curiouser and curiouser! Directed by Arindam Krishna Das, the show features student performers in grades six through eight, a lively score, and energetic choreography by Lanie Iannucci. Watch as the new boy at school makes friends, learns to stand up for himself, and helps the students of Wonderland High rise above the cliques that divide them.Come enjoy a night of Community Theater. Performances will be on Friday, February 10th, at 7p.m.; Saturday, February 11th, at 1 and 7p.m.; and Sunday, February 12th, at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale now - http://www.theatreinthemountains.org/box-office
Loma Upcoming Events
1/26 4th and 5th grade field trip
1/27 SoW assembly 8:30
2/1 100th Day of School
2/3 SoW assembly 8:30
2/8 School Board Meeting
2/10 SoW assembly 8:30