Española Schools Adopt Budget, Cut Some Programs & Mandate Furloughs


Española Schools Adopt Budget, Cut Some Programs & Mandate Furloughs

EDITOR’s NOTE: Article updated at 8:55 a.m. June 15 to include fully detailed budget recomendations.

ESPAÑOLA  – In a special Board of Education meeting the Española School Board met at Carlos Vigil Middle School Friday evening to adopt a budget for the 2015 – 16 school year. Over the past week the school board met four times to develop two possible budget options from which they selected Friday night.

Interim superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez recommended Option A, which would close Velarde Elementary and the school board voted 4-1 to adopt Option A as the budget for the 2015-16 school year.

Option A achieves a balanced budget by cutting spending in a variety of programs and by closing Velarde Elementary. As previously reported in the Valley Daily Post HERE, the State’s Public Education Department twice denied approval to close Velarde Elementary so the district is moving forward with a law suit to force the state to accept the closure.

Option B assumes Velarde Elementary will not be closed and achieves a balanced budget by making deeper cuts into a variety of other programs including reduction in maintenance staff and possible employee furloughs.

The final adopted budget funds school operations at $43,467,021, after cutting roughtly $1.9 million through cost savings in Option A.
See budget options spreadsheet below and the fully detailed budget recomendation in PDF HERE.

At the start of discussions board member Anabelle Almager suggested an alternative way to reduce spending was to shut down the central office for two weeks during the summer and capture the salary and other savings to help close the budget gap. Interim superintendent Gutierrez indicated that it would be difficult to shut down central office while simultaneously managing a variety of issues including preparing for the new school year, dealing with the lawsuit regarding Velarde Elementary, and other issues.

Board member Yolanda Salazar suggested that rather than cut the administrative staff hours that the board members themselves reduce their savings and other expenses. All board members agreed with that general sentiment and board member Salazar returned a check for $500 during the meeting and stated that she would personally pay for her travel and other expenses related to the school district during the new school year. Interim superintendent Gutierrez also volunteered to not receive a portion of her salary due to her in the amount of $2,200.

During public comments Joseph Torres, Española  schools’ lobbyist for the past year volunteered to lobby for the district for only $25, the amount necessary to cover his registration fee with the Secretary of State.

Board member Ruben Archuleta questioned the need for the district to continue to fund a public relations contract stating that was a lower priority item for the school district and recommended the $50,000 for that contract be cut.

After approximately one hour of discussion a motion was made to adopt Option A and the school board voted 4 to 1 in favor of Option A. School board member Archuleta voted no explaining the inclusion of public relations funds as his primary reason.