Mapleton budget brings salary increases

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The just-approved 2013-14 budget for Mapleton Public Schools includes funding for salary and benefit increases and hiring more grade-school teachers.

The Board of Education approved the budget during its June 25 regular meeting. The budget has a general fund balance of about $63.1 million, which is an increase of a little less than $5 million over last year’s budget.

The increase stems from the expected growth of 355 students at Connections Academy, an online K-12 school, and a 1.9 percent increase in funding from the state. The district saw an increase in enrollment of 292 students, or 5.5 percent, during the 2012-13 school year. Officials expect 75 additional students for 2013-14 but did not budget for this potential growth.

“Given the fiscal environment in the state, we have a strong financial picture,” said Superintendent Charlotte Ciancio. “Of course, in public education we have and continue to struggle with year-over-year decreases in our funding. We are a lean organization and are still limited in our ability to provide the breadth of services we believe our children deserve.”

Per-pupil funding for Mapleton students is expected to slightly increase to $6,748 per student, up from $6,568.65 for the 2012-13 school year.

The district is investing $550,000 to hire 10 additional kindergarten and first-grade teachers to decrease class sizes as part of the district’s Primary Program.

“The program provides students who need additional time between (kindergarten) and second grade an opportunity to sharpen their skills and establish strong foundations for learning before hitting the standardized testing cycle,” Ciancio said.

As part of its negotiating this year, the district and Mapleton Education Association have redesigned the salary structure, moving to salary ranges.

“We anticipated $1.1 million in salary and benefit increases for all employee groups,” she said.

Also, the district has added five student days to the 2013-14 school year for a total of 170 days.

“We believe that providing our children with additional days in the learning environment, coupled with robust fieldwork and cultural experiences, help them to make great strides in closing the achievement gap and avoid summer learning loss,” Ciancio said.

District officials are hopeful that Colorado voters will pass a tax increase in November that could bring in as much as $1 billion to public-education funding. This could mean approximately $6.5 million in additional funding overall for Mapleton. Ciancio said any additional funding would go toward getting to a 200-student day calendar over time.

“Adding a single day of student contact costs the school district close to $200,000,” she said.