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State funding for 50J bumped by $1.9M

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An additional $1.9 million in state funding is headed to Delta County Joint School District #50 for the next fiscal year. State legislators are infusing $150 million statewide to buy down the "negative factor," the difference between the current funding level and that established by Amendment 23.

School board members expected to vote on a new salary/benefits schedule for staff members at their April 26 meeting. Instead, superintendent Caryn Gibson asked for more time to determine how the one-time funding should be allocated.

She had previously proposed a salary increase of 3.12 percent for teachers and a 4 percent increase for classified staff. For bus drivers, kitchen personnel and other classified staff, the increase is largely driven by mandated increases in the minimum wage.

Transportation, technology, safety/security measures and building maintenance have also been cited as funding priorities for the district.

Jim Ventrello, business manager of Delta County Joint School District #50, said per-pupil funding is currently $7,441.93. The Joint Budget Committee at first proposed an additional $100 million to buy down the negative factor statewide, but because of pressure from teachers, decided to increase the buy down to $150 million.

Delta County's share of the one-time funding is $1,930,650, or an additional $454.46 per pupil.

With the negative factor figured in, Delta County is still owed $3,504,793, Ventrello said. He also noted that because of declining property values, Delta County is becoming increasingly more dependent on state funding. Closure of the coal mines has also reduced revenue for the school district.

More good news was shared at the school board meeting, as Lincoln Elementary and Cedaredge Elementary were recognized as Capturing Kids' Hearts national showcase schools. The Capturing Kids Hearts program was implemented districtwide two years ago.

The award recognizes and celebrates campuses that go the extra mile each day, building an environment where students and staff feel safe and connected.

It's based, in part, on site visits and data that shows the program has made a significant improvement in attendance, discipline, climate/culture, or academics.

CES principal Daniel Renfrow, LES principal Jen Magner and selected staff members will be traveling to Dallas, Texas, June 18-19 to accept the award and to begin Level II training. Renfrow said the district's investment in the program has paid off.

It was also reported that 14 staff members, with 230 combined years of dedicated service, are retiring at the end of the school year.

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