LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The state of Colorado’s largest school district on Friday announced that they will be closing two schools, laying off employees and cutting back on salaries as part of $40 million in cuts.
“During difficult times you have to make difficult decisions and hopefully kids will learn to understand you do things that you don’t want to do,” said Jefferson County School Board President Dave Thomas.
“We might feel the effects of this for years to come,” said PTA member Michelle Winzent.
In a news release sent out by Jeffco Public Schools officials the following cuts were listed:
– 3 percent loss of compensation for all employees, resulting in a four-work-day reduction and two student-contact furlough days
– Closure of Martensen Elementary School and Zerger Elementary School
– Loss of 212 jobs throughout the district, including teachers, administrators and support staff.
– Moving Long View High School staff and students to McLain High School
– Higher athletic fees
– Transportation fees, including a $150 charge for students to ride the bus
– The suspension of the outdoor lab experience for Jeffco sixth-graders at Mt. Evans and Windy Peak
The announcement of the cuts follow several public meetings where county officials outlined just how bad the budget situation has become.
“We recognize that some of these recommendations will be difficult for our community, but they are the right decisions during tough economic times,” said Thomas.
Moms with the Parent Teachers Association said they’ve been bracing for cuts. They worry how families with several children will afford to pay for the bus. They also worry how schools with fewer teachers will stay competitive.
“The biggest impact on the kids is going to be the larger class sizes,” said parent Virginia Zimmerman.
“Everyone is expecting students to do better, excel better, how are they going to get them the resources to do that if we’re cutting teachers,” said parent Lindsay Woltz.
“Our staff is absorbing the brunt of the reductions with the loss of jobs and the loss of compensation in order to have the least impact on our students and the quality of education they are receiving,” Superintendent Dr. Cindy Stevenson said.
The district worked with groups representing teachers, staff and administrators to decide on the cuts. The budget still needs to be approved by the school board.
The district is just one of many across the state which is in emergency mode since Gov. John Hickenlooper came out with his proposal for eliminating some K-12 education funding in the state budget. Hickenlooper has proposed cutting $332 million from schools statewide in the next school year to balance the budget. That follows $260 million in cuts this year.
Link: Jeffco Public Schools