Brunvand seeks re-election based on fiscal experience, diverse perspectives
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series profiling all six school board candidates. On Friday, read about
candidate Jon Kreamelmeyer.
SUMMIT COUNTY – It would be tough to find many people who have spent a greater percentage of their lives in Summit County schools than Jay Brunvand has.
More than 30 years ago, the incumbent Summit School District School Board member – the board’s treasurer – set foot in the county’s schools as an eager fourth-grader.
He’s still here, and he hopes Summit County voters will decide to keep him here when they go to the poles in November.
Brunvand said one of his greatest assets as a candidate for the school board is his 360-degree perspective on the district.
In addition to his nine years in Summit County as a student – during which time his mother served as a school board member – he worked for the school district as an accountant for eight years, served on the board for four years, served on the board for Zoomers Preschool in Dillon and was a Silverthorne Town Council member for two terms. He is a father of two students in the district.
According to Brunvand, his most valuable qualifications lie in his accounting expertise, particularly in government accounting. When he worked for the district administration, he built the budget three times and assisted five times. He now works as an accountant for the town of Minturn in Eagle County.
Brunvand said the state Legislature-mandated, per-student school funding formula is one of the most complicated things he’s ever seen, and it takes a good deal of experience to understand it.
Summit School District’s funding is based primarily on an annual (Oct. 1) student count and a formula outlined in the Colorado School Finance Act updated each year by the Legislature.
Brunvand said other financial factors such as the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR,) the Gallagher Amendment and the proposed Amendment 32 make school funding even more complicated. He said his experience has prepared him to meet those challenges.
“Anyone can spend money. It’s harder to figure out how to bring it in,” he said.
One of Brunvand’s proudest accomplishments is his role in increasing funding to the district through voter-approved mill levies.
The biggest is the 2001-passed maintenance, technology and construction special levy that raises about $10 million a year for three years. About $7.8 million have funded renovations to Breckenridge Elementary School and other projects, not the least which is the new Silverthorne Elementary School rising out of the ground at the town’s north end.
The rest of the money funds maintenance and technology, saving the general education budget about $2.1 million that can be spent in the classroom.
“A three-year mill levy saves millions of dollars in debt. It’s a path through the financial forest that allows you to fund projects with cash instead of debt,” Brunvand said.
Normally, school districts fund big projects with borrowing that can cost taxpayers as much as 90 percent of the amount borrowed in interest payments.
Money from a separate mill levy also funds transportation.
Brunvand takes pride in the most recent teacher contract negotiations, which increased beginning teacher base pay to $30,000.
“You can get incredible teachers right out of college, but they can’t afford to live here,” Brunvand said. “You’ve got to be able to find a way to get teachers and retain them.”
Brunvand was also the chief negotiator for the new superintendent’s contract. He is looking forward to developing the contract further to include a performance-based raise.
Brunvand said that his role as a school board member provides him a good way to give back to the community.
“When I moved here, K-12 was all in the same building,” he said. “There isn’t a place in this district that’s not in my backyard. I want to make sure that we have a good school district – that our budget is sound, that our teachers are quality, that what’s done is done right.”
Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at email@example.com.
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