No-win situation: Band, Spanish, specialists on district’s chopping block

April 2012 Posted in School

By Don Murtha

Counselors, school supplies, coaches, food service, maintenance, athletics and band are part of a long list of reductions and cuts on the proposed Mount Angel School District 2012-13 budget to meet a $792,737 shortfall.

The list of reductions includes 21 items to squeeze out a total proposed budget of $6.89 million. The proposed budget was presented at two public meetings on April 3 and 4.

The Mount Angel School District Budget Committee will review the proposal at its meetings on May 7 and May 14. Community members are invited to attend both meetings to learn about the budget plan and to provide input.

The final document will be presented to the Mount Angel School Board on June 14 for adoption.

Superintendent Troy Stoops presented a bleak picture to an audience of about 75 people in April.  He opened by squashing two rumors. He said the Mount Angel School District is not broke and will not merge with the Silver Falls School District.

Along with the budget bad news, Stoops said, there is also good news.

“Mount Angel has the potential to be the best small school district in Oregon,” he said. “We have great kids and families who are routinely complimented by outsiders.”

John F. Kennedy High School has more students graduating and going on college, Stoops said, adding Kennedy graduate Kurt Berning recently received a Fulbright Scholarship for a master’s degree in education and development.

Emphasizing the positive, Stoops praised district staff for being “competent, student-centered and driven.”

“For the past two years, Mount Angel is one of only 32 out of 198 districts in Oregon to meet Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives,” he said.

Providing a quality education and maintaining standards for students is becoming more challenging with declining funds, Stoops said. The cuts to the school district are “devastating. It is very frustrating. It is a no-win situation.”

The staff has not received a pay increase in the last four years. The proposed budget will reduce staff-negotiated salaries by 4.69 percent, while benefits will remain the same as in the 2011-12 budget.

The Oregon State Legislature controls school funding which is part of the state’s general fund, Stoops explained. Funding is based on the number of students in the district. Mount Angel has 680 students, down 20 from October.

The teaching staff has declined from 51.14 full time equivalents in 2009-10, to 37.75 FTEs in the 2012-13 plan. The proposal will also cut a full-time custodian, counselor, and the school resource officer, whose cost has been share by the City of Mount Angel.

To balance the budget, the district proposes cutting the co-curricular programs and sports at the middle school; the band programs at all grade levels; family and consumer studies, business and marketing and Spanish classes at the high school, the technology and instructional coaches, and the family-support advocate and youth transition specialist. Cuts also will be made to custodial supplies, high school co-curricular supplies, coaching stipends, instructional supplies and club advisory stipends.

Next year, Stoops said, the school district will consider putting the bus service out to contract in hopes of saving $37,000, but that will not help this year’s shortfall.

Stoops said residents are encouraged to call or email the district office at 503-845-2345 or to give their input on the proposal.

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