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Carbondale Commentary The Educators’ Roundtable Understanding the complexities of school financing: It can be done With the economy such a pressing factor, the Carbondale Educators’ Roundtable decided our first column would be about public and independent school funding. We asked Shannon Pelland, the finance director for the Roaring Fork School District, to distill complicated state funding laws for public education. She writes, “The majority of funding for public schools in Colorado is based on a complex calculation governed by the state’s School Finance Act. The formula to determine per pupil funding (PPF) for each district takes into account differences in the size of district, cost-of-living and other factors. PPF is multiplied by the number of students in each district to determine Total Program Funding (TPF). The state determines what portion of TPF can be generated by local property taxes and specific ownership taxes from each district, and the state must make up the difference. For the Roaring Fork School District, most of the funding comes from local taxes. In some districts with low assessed property values, most of the funding comes from the state.” Pelland said that in the RFSD, the TPF is $36.3 million. Approximately 83 percent of the budget comes from property taxes, followed by specific ownership taxes (3 percent) and state funding (14 percent of the budget). With property taxes expected to decrease by as much as 30 percent next year, the state will have to pick up a much larger portion of Total Program Funding. This is one of the issues causing a projected shortfall in the state’s budget, resulting in big cuts to education funding. Colorado law permits local districts to collect up to 25 percent (about $9 million for RFSD) more than the amount allowed by the Total Program Funding formula if local voters approve a mill levy override resulting in increased property taxes. RFSD voters have previously approved $4 million in mill levy overrides leaving about $5 million additional that could be approved by voters. For RFSD schools, individual school budgets will see a 42 percent reduction – 12 percent last year and another 30 percent this fall. For all schools, generating additional funds is essential to having extras, as state funding in Colorado is limited compared to other states. We rely on the fundraising efforts of our communities to support additional programs we know benefit kids, and all our schools are enhanced due to parental and community efforts. A public charter school such as Carbondale Community School is funded like the rest of the Roaring Fork School District’s schools. However, 5 percent of the school’s per pupil funding goes back to the school district for its share of district administrative costs. The school’s PPF funding does not support the school’s entire budget, so through grants and fundraising efforts the school needs to raise approximately $1,500 per student in order to continue to operate. Carbondale Community School teachers’ salaries are 90 percent of what RFSD teachers are paid. Grants support the school’s counseling and literacy positions; the school’s art teacher is funded by its annual Roaring Fork Studio Tour (which takes place in early June). Independent schools in Carbondale are funded differently than public schools. For example, Colorado Rocky Mountain School does not receive any government funding. Hence, CRMS meets an annual operating budget of over $5 million primarily through tuition and fees. Full tuition and fees cover 75 percent of the actual cost of a CRMS education, so the school generates the rest of the necessary revenue through its Annual Fund (supported by parents, alumni, grants/foundations and friends of the school), endowment proceeds and summer programming. The Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork is an independent rather than a private school. To achieve that goal, the school raises hundreds of thousands of dollars per year that are offered as tuition reductions for families who do not have the financial means to pay full tuition. In a typical year, about two-thirds of the school’s operating income is generated by tuition and one-third from gifts, fundraising events and grants. Ross Montessori charter school is part of the Charter School Initiative public school district (a state-wide district). The school is funded though per pupil funding and donations/fundraising. It generates approximately $70,000 per year through fundraisers. We welcome your questions and/or comments. Submitted by Karen Olson, Crystal River Elementary School; Tom Penzel, Carbondale Community School; Jeff Leahy, Colorado Rocky Mountain School; Robert Schultz, the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork; and Shannon Pelland, the Roaring Fork School District.

2 • THE SOPRIS SUN • MAY 19, 2011

e Real Housewives of Carbondale First of all, the real housewives of Carbondale work (just because you don’t earn a living wage in this valley, doesn’t mean it isn’t work.) The only time we get to wear our velour track suits is on Saturday at the rugby field, dog park, CO-OP, etc. The kind of woman who comes (and stays) Out West is not the same as her East Coast counterpart; like that region-specific Barbie e-mail that went around a few years ago (all I remember is the Carbondale Barbie had hairy legs and drove a Subaru and the Rifle Barbie could kick Ken’s). The real housewives of Carbondale are more likely to be found on a cattle drive than in the drive-through. And the typical Carbondale housewife would trade all the premature gold jewelry and blood diamonds in the world just to have time for a bike ride and a long hot bath o1 n the same day. The West is no place for sissies.* Speaking of sissies, what’s up with these guys we’ve elected to do a job they’re obviously not qualified to do?! “Dear Congress: in the real world, if you do not have your most important project completed in time, you don’t shut down your office ... you get fired.” –TL. These guys are the 1 percent that is 100 percent of the problem. Cutting public funding for things like women’s health care (Planned Parenthood) women’s multi-tasking news source (NPR) and women’s precious time to shave By Jeannie Perry their legs (Sesame Street) is going to solve our national spending habit, really? As usual, these guys don’t consider what the other 99 percent wants; they just sit in their wood-paneled dens with their dead heads and watch the propaganda war machine that is the opposite of unbiased media. I can’t even watch Fox News anymore without feeling like I’ve entered Jeremy Madden’s horrible parallel universe. The anchors all look like Barker’s Beauties — and that’s just the men. It’s like a strange, far away world of war and oil & gas and pancake makeup. And I, for one, don’t want to live there. I want to live in a world of innovation and acceptance. Wherever the real Obama is, where they are using renewable energy sources and where the people who have the most share with those who have the least. (Yeah, I voted for him; and I’d do it again. I took a chance on the guy claiming he was for change, instead of the My Crazy Runs Wide and It Runs Deep ticket.) At least I hope that’s going on in another time plane, otherwise it’s as I suspected all along: Obama’s hooked up in a vat somewhere in Virginia, we’ll use gas until our wildlife refuges are the size of zoos and the 1 percent will have to live behind 6-foot walls with 24-hour security while the rest of us line up each morning for work — oh shoot! The future is now! We’re already there, at the tipping point of revolution. When 1 percent owns 40 percent of the wealth,* it’s like the real housewives of New Jersey — To inform, inspire and build community top-heavy and easily tipped over (even Donations accepted online or by before too many margaritas.) mail. For information call 510-3003 It’s either revolution, or we all move down to Mexico and experience Editor: Lynn Burton • 510-3003 what it’s like to have affordable dental care. I’m so tired of people in this country getting their undies in a bunch Advertising: Dina Drinkhouse • 970-456-7261 about illegal immigrants entering our country and taking our jobs, using our health care and watching our Sesame Photographer/Writer: Jane Bachrach Street. Why don’t we set up a welcome Ad/Page Production: Terri Ritchie center at the border to hand out tax ID Paper Boy: Cameron Wiggin numbers? Real housewives in velour Webmaster: Will Grandbois track suits, with clipboards, welcomSopris Sun, LLC Managing ing newcomers to sign in and sign up Board of Directors: for all the benefits of being a bona fide Peggy DeVilbiss • David Johnson war-mongering, gas guzzling, tax-payAllyn Harvey • Colin Laird ing American. Laura McCormick • Trina Ortega

Ps & Qs

* The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. “Of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent,” by Joseph E. Stiglitz (

Jean Perry • Elizabeth Phillips Frank Zlogar

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May 19, 2011  

Sopris Sun E Edition