A rural southern Colorado school district has warned state officials that its financial problems are getting near the point where it may be unable to pay its debt.

Hoehne Reorganized Schools in Las Animas County is among six in the state reporting severe financial distress. Hoehne and LaVeta schools in nearby Huerfano County suffered the loss of a major taxpayer, leaving both districts in distress.

Hoehne reported that $211,000 in property taxes from the property owner were lost and that it may need help from the state.

The Colorado Department of Education audits the finances of 178 school districts every year with an eye toward potential crises. The audit covers cash flow, debt, and operating reserves, along with other elements.

Since the recession forced spending cuts statewide, all districts have been forced to tighten their belts.

However, the six districts reporting financial distress are less than one-third the 19 that reported distress the previous year.

Among those still on the distressed list is the state’s largest district, Jefferson County, in the western suburbs of Denver.

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