RE-2 seeks new principal for Summit: Deeper budget cuts might become necessary

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Summit Elementary School Principal Eric Owen moving on at the end of the school year and Woodland Park RE-2 School District hopes name a new principal by April 26.

At the March 13 RE-2 board meeting, Superintendent Jed Bowman and Assistant Superintendent Linda Murray talked about their recent meeting with Summit staff and parents to see what they want in a new principal.

“They really just want Eric to stay,” Bowman said. “We're all sad to see him go.”

Next fall, Owen will be the new principal at Mountainside Elementary School in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8.

Bowman also reported on two school finance bills.

A new school finance bill, Senate Bill 13-213, has been presented at the General Assembly by Sens. Michael Johnston and Rollie Heath and Rep. Millie Hamner.

“This bill is a complete replacement of the (School Finance) Act of 1994,” Bowman said. “I'm not clear on all of its provisions but I believe that if it passes districts, such as ours, whose mill levies are less than 25 mills will have to ask voters for an increase or lose funding. …Our district would probably lose $750 per child.”

The forecast under the state's current school finance bill also isn't as good as he hoped it would be.

“We've been hearing generally positive news all year and now the state is saying something else,” Bowman said. “We thought we would be receiving an additional $220 per pupil but now the estimate is only $120 per pupil.”

Because of the district's declining enrollment, even with the full $220 per pupil increase, budget cuts were in the offing.

“We've gone from $500,000 in cuts to $800,000 in cuts,” Bowman said. “I'm really tired of this…I'm frustrated…I'm a little bummed out.”

School Psychologist Adric Arndt reported on proposed changes to the district's preschool program. Each elementary school in the district has three half-day preschool sessions four days a week. He is proposing that one of the half-day sessions be changed into a full-day session, five days a week.

This change is needed because several local childcare facilities have closed, he said, adding that the state only allows the district a set number of preschool slots. If the new school finance act is approved as submitted, schools will be allowed to enroll all of the 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old preschool pupils who apply but they would still only be funded as half-day pupils.

“We're hoping a full-day preschool program will help us to retain more students for kindergarten,” Arndt said.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for April 10.