Mar 10, 2011 7:43 PM by David Ortiviz

City schools faces "largest budget challenge in history"

Pueblo City Schools faces some tough decisions. Superintendent Dr. Maggie Lopez says the school district is dealing with the "largest budget challenge in it's history." The school district needs to cut about $8.5 million from the 2011-2012 school year's budget, that's roughly 8% of its general fund.

The school board met this afternoon to review numerous proposed cuts, including staff furloughs, salary freezes and reduction in bus services. One recommendation that could have the biggest impact is the possibility of closing schools. "We're thinking worst case scenario and we don't even want to consider those options but we may be forced to do that," said Stephanie Garcia, School Board President.

The school board wants to stress these are only recommendations and more discussions are planned. The board must finalize the budget by June.

Here's the complete list of possible budget reductions that were presented by Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Kluck:

1. Offer retirement incentives.
2. Salary reduction equivalent furlough days, which means the number of days off for each workers would vary based on their work calendar.
3. Standardized programs and eliminate duplication.
4. Salary freezes.
5. Transportation savings, which could include eliminating busing for magnet schools and middle school athletics.
6. Reduce the number of literacy teachers by 3 or 4 teachers.
7. Outsource custodial services.
8. Selling assests: Keating and Strack buildings.
9. Repurpose or temporarily close a school.
10. Reduction in document services.
11. Keep deputy superintendent position vacant.
12. Current year budget reductions to increase the carryover to fiscal year 2012.
13. Dip into reserves. The school district has roughly $11 million in reserves.



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