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Letter to the Editor: Demand more – Silver Falls School District budget requires action

1,485 Respondents: During the May 2, 2024 (Silver Falls) school board “work session,” no comments were allowed. The board received collated documents from Superintendent Morelock for opinions on priority programs. Morelock was thanked for the extensive detail.

This time-consuming, week-long, process was to determine the sacred cows. There were no surprises to scholastic or extra-curricular concerns. No insult intended to the many faithful who responded; but this was a waste of valuable time.

Instead of resolve, a round table review of the budget, there are studies, reports, and delays!

No board decisions were made. A discussion of plausible guilt ensued. Instead of allowing other discussion, the gavel dropped at 8:50 p.m.

Discussion Requested: On May 1, the day before, the board received correspondence asking for discussion of expectations and solutions.

Some were to take prompt action to be accountable and responsible; Board meetings should be twice per week in the front of the public; our teachers deserve to know their futures now; instead of an interim superintendent, we should hire a permanent superintendent; require a formal and professional forensic discovery of how our financials were abused; “no confidence” indicates the chair and vice-chair should resign their positions; produce the closing agreement with (former superintendent Scott) Drue, which drained funds not required in his contract; care of facility assets in the interim which have possible functional value of $500 million; etc.

Civic Opportunity Fund: The primary topic (in the request for discussion) was an example on how to avoid the huge hit with new revenue. (The May 1 submission proposed) funds amortized over six years at $1.5 million per year could restore reserves and budgets. Incentive in the process could provide civic satisfaction and more interest income for families, teachers and the teachers union. A win, win, win.

(The proposal suggested) if cuts conclude $7.5 million; using an amortization calculator with 6 percent return over six years, interest and principle is $8,949,359. Divided by six years is $1,492,560. This is sustainable.

(It further suggested) a local bank would contract to deposit funds, provide receipts, pay interest and report tax income. District budget assignment would provide the $1.5 million in the annual income.

Lack of Diligence: Chair Traeger claimed there were no warnings in the CPA audits. However, in review of Pauly Rogers’ report (June 30, 2023), “With a general fund ending balance of just 1.5 percent, it’s critical the district build back reserves immediately.”

Additionally, Drue’s June 2023 budget statement forecast a $600,000 cash deficit for 2024.

New Board: In support of the new members, many financials documents were not provided them until January 2024.

Hopeful Comments: (Board member) Josh Ort stated the meetings should be five times per week. (Member) Phil Wiesner stated “complacency”. (Member) Derrick Foxworth stated teachers need to know their futures before June.

From May 2 we again learn the old board cannot be relied on. Superintendent Morlock now receives direction from Chair Jennifer Traeger.

Ask the new board members to make motions demanding more meetings each week and immediate solutions.

Gene Pfeifer
25 year School budget committee Chairman, High School Relocation, 1993 and 1999


 Send letters to [email protected] or mailed to Editor, Our Town, P.O. Box 927, Mount Angel, OR 97362. Please limit to fewer than 500 words. Our Town reserves the right to edit for clarity and space. 

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