School budget has switches for district

Teaching and administrative positions throughout the district are being shifted and trimmed in the 2010-11 Sweet Home School District budget proposal presented by Supt. Larry Horton to the Budget Committee last week in a climate of economic uncertainty.

“There are several factors causing this situation,” Horton said at the first meeting, held April 19. “The first condition adding to our financial crisis is the weak economy. The second is declining enrollment. The third is an uncertain increase in the PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) rates. The final uncertainty Is the fact that teacher negotiations are just getting started and could cause changes in the current budget presented tonight.

“While we must be cautious and prudent with our spending, we are fortunate to have reserve funds that will allow us to hold steady in most programs throughout the 2010-11 school year.”

The Budget Committee approved the budget Monday night.

The total budget is $31 million, up from $30.6 million, with $19.9 million in the General Fund.

That change is primarily due to a small increase in state funding, from $16.9 million to $17.6 million, and an increase in debt service fund balances due to growing debt service payments, Horton said.

The 2009-10 carryover estimate of $1.575 million will be spent down to $592,000 in the 2010-11 budget year, Horton said. That amount will become the beginning fund balance for the 2011-12 budget.

The budget cuts a full-time teaching position at Oak Heights and a half-time position at Holley where enrollments have declined, Horton said. It also reflects a loss of a federal grant at Holley. It is a total reduction of about $90,000.

The district will add a teacher at the Junior High at a cost of about $60,000 to meet increased enrollment estimates, Horton said. The district is projecting 28 additional students at the Junior High.

The High School will drop a physical education position while adding a math-science teacher to meet new state requirements.

The High School also will shift funds from contracting with Community Services Consortium for the Wilderness Academy alternative education service to hire its own alternative education instructor.

The elementary physical education position will work one day per week at each school, costing an additional $12,000. The position will be reduced by eight hours with the loss of state grant funding.

Foster Principal Glenna DeSouza’s time will be reduced by .15 full-time equivalent, saving approximately $12,000.

Food Service Director Milli Horton’s time also will be reduced by .15 FTE, saving approximately $7,500.

Funding for the school resource police officer will increase to $40,000 per year. The city picked up 75 percent of the cost for the 2009-10 school year, returning to a 50-percent contribution in 2010-11.

Classified salaries are increasing by their steps and by 2.5 percent according to their contract, an increase of $180,000.

Certified and administrative salaries will increase only by their steps for now. Negotiations are under way with certified employees.

The budget was built with several unresolved issues, Horton said. One, it is based on the best state funding forecast available, March 2010.

A second issue is that the Sweet Home Charter School is projecting to add 36 students next year, Horton said. The state’s funding formula for charter schools appropriates 80 percent of the state school funding per student to the charter school and the remaining 20 percent to the school districts. The district is budgeting $923,000 for the Sweet Home Charter School.

“A sound fiscal tradition has developed in Sweet Home through hard work and sound stewardship,” Horton said. “Although the challenges facing the Oregon economy are many, the budget presented tonight is steady and provides our students and staff with the resources they need to have a successful school year. As with past budgets, we propose this budget with an eye toward long-term stability and fiscal responsibility.”

Budget committee members include Brandell Braatz, Bessie Lovik, Michelle Marler, Jeff Lynn, Anay Hausner, Kari Bennett, Steven Hiett, Andrea Hoffmeister and Melanie Jones; Board Chairman Mike Reynolds; and board members, Chanz Keeney, Jenny Daniels, John Fassler, Leena Neuschwander, Billie Weber, David VanDerlip, Jason Redick and Dale Keene.