Mt. Angel School District closes deficit

May 2022 Posted in News, School

By Stephen Floyd

The Mt. Angel School District (MASD) has closed a $1.2 million projected deficit in its budget for the coming school year without resorting to drastic cuts in staffing or programs.

On May 16, the District Budget Committee approved a proposal that reduced the projected deficit to roughly $123,000, which can be covered by emergency reserves if actual revenue for the 2022-2023 school year comes up short.

The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget June 13 and has until June 30 to approve a finalized version.

Superintendent Rachel Stucky said the efforts of district leaders to tackle the deficit reflect their dedication to creating a positive learning environment.

“We are committed to doing everything in our power to help all kids successfully continue their educational journey in Mount Angel,” she said.

The district was confronted with the deficit after enrollment and revenue continued to decline amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the 2018-2019 school year, enrollment has dropped by around 100 students, or roughly 15 percent, with projected growth for next school year at just three percent.

During the March 14 meeting of the board, officials said all options were on the table, including layoffs, furlough days and the elimination of academic or athletic programs. Board Chair Shari Riedman said such cuts could be a blow to morale, but that student learning had to come first.

However, multiple staff positions have since become vacant due to resignations or retirements, and the district chose not to fill them while also choosing to not renew some temporary positions. These measures, along with reductions in department budgets, the delay of a curriculum upgrade, and the use of state and federal grants closed the projected deficit to a more manageable level.

The proposed budget also applies $300,000 from federal pandemic relief funds to the deficit, with a remaining $300,000 held in reserve. While the district had considered applying more of the relief funds to cover the shortfall, MASD Business Manager Kristi Brackinreed cautioned against this because the funds will not be replenished and entering the school year without adequate reserves would leave little room for error.

Stucky acknowledged the proposed budget places the district in a stronger position. Fallout from the pandemic continues to make revenue and enrollment difficult to anticipate. “Economic factors are uncertain and costs are rising exponentially,” she said. Budget figures are “moving targets.”

“We will have to be creative in shifting the allocation of resources and spending funds differently in order to continue investments in programs that support our priorities,” Stucky said.

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