By Don Murtha
Facing reductions in state funding, the Mount Angel School District made major cuts across the board to balance the budget for 2011-12. Reductions are slated for staff, athletics, administration, supplies, transportation and maintenance, equaling $783,200.
As the state Legislature struggles over the governor’s education budget, Mount Angel School District Superintendent Robert Young worries over exactly how much funding the district will receive from the state. Depending on what formula the Legislature decides on, Mount Angel’s shortfall could be as much as $799,475 or as little as $581,333, not including salary and benefit increases.
“Right now we don’t know how much we will get,” Young said. “We have a pretty good idea of the range, but we have to deal with realities.”
By law, both the state of Oregon and its school districts must have balanced budgets.
“We have no options,” he said. “We know we have a deficit and the only way to fix it is to make cuts.”
For the present, Young said, the district will not cut school days. “I see cutting days as a short-term fix,” he said.
Enrollment has decreased from 803 students in 2002-03 to currently 694 students. Young attributes the decline to the economy that has forced people to move. “Most other districts in the state are experiencing the same relative decline in enrollment,” he said.
In dealing with funding reduction for Mount Angel, Young said the goal is to keep primary class size low. Proposed class sizes for kindergarten, first and second grades will be 16.5, 22 and 19.5. Third and fourth grades will be 26.5 and 23.5.
Because the district is not getting as much funding from the state and with the loss of federal stimulus funds, the district’s general fund expenditures will decrease from $7.3 million in 2010-11 to $6.7 million for 2011-12.
Young said the district cash carryover is an indictor of how well the district is doing financially. In 2006-07 the district’s cash carryover was $1.35 million, for the 2011-12 fiscal year it will be $169,347. The district’s contingency fund has seen a sharp decline from $280,000 in 2008-09 down to $144,837 in 2010-11.
“There is cause for concern here,” Young said. “We need a substantial contingency fund in case of an emergency, like if a boiler goes out in one of the schools.”
Among the recommendations for closing the gap in the district’s shortfall, the district will draw $200,000 from the Public Employees Retirement System to be transferred to the general fund.
Cuts include reducing school supplies; eliminating junior varsity II teams, the middle school athletic director and a coaching position; restricting non-conference athletic trips, cutting hours in the maintenance/custodial department and reducing driver time by 10 hours a week.
The district will no longer fund its share of the school resource officer, eliminating that position. In the past, the district has funded two-thirds of the position and the city of Mount Angel has funded one-third.
The district will cut 1.5 full-time employees in education assistants and reduce by four days per year the English language assistant. Education assistant hours during late start and early release will be reduced.
Savings in educational assistants will amount to $52,700.
Among licensed staff, 4.5 full-time employees will be cut for a savings of $353,600. Part of the reduction will be two teachers at St. Mary’s School, where enrollment is down.
The official budget meeting is May 9 at the high school.