By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Budget would stabilize class sizes, days

The school board  will conduct a public hearing on the district’s 2013-14 spending plan at 7 p.m. Monday, June 10. It will precede a regular business meeting at the district office, 1500 N.E. Baker St.

The budget is based on an expectation that the state Legislature will devote $6.55 billion to K-12 education in the 2013-15 biennium, up nearly a billion dollars from last biennium. If so, McMinnville can expect about $50.9 million in state money next year.

An increase in revenue means the district can maintain class sizes at current levels. Classes average 20 in kindergarten, 26 at the grade school level, 29.5 at the middle school level and 30 at the high school level.

In addition, the district will have a compete school year, with no unpaid furloughs.

Both certified and classified employee groups have taken furloughs annually since 2009-10. This year, the furloughs included a student contact day, as well as teacher training and work days.

The district also will be able to maintain some positions that have been funded by grants, which are ending, by including them in the general fund. For example, three reading intervention specialists will become part of the general fund.

The proposed 2013-14 budget will let the district continue providing quality education to its students, Superintendent Maryalice Russell said. She and other school officials and budget committee members pointed to the district’s numerous successes, such as schools that rank high on state measures for academics and student improvement; a high percentage of McMinnville High School graduates who go on to higher education; and Mac High students earning more college credits while still in high school than students in any other school in the state.

But with the district’s PERS retirement costs going up nearly $2 million, despite some limited legislative reform efforts, the district still will have to make some cuts, Russell said.

The district will need to cut about 2.35 teaching positions, including half a position in special education, just under one FTE in English Language Learner program and one in middle school alternative education. It also will cut about 58 hours of classified staff time and reduce funds for a behavior services contract, extra duty pay, and services and supplies in the central office, facilities and curriculum areas.

In addition, the district will save money by creating its own specialized classroom for autistic elementary students, instead of sending them to a program in another district. It will reduce teaching staff by half a position at the middle level and one-third a position at the high school due to changes in enrollment, but add a teacher at the elementary level for the same reason.

The budget proposal also calls for using $500,000 from the reserve fund in order to prevent more drastic cuts. It includes a $3 million contingency fund.

For more information, call the district office at 503-565-4000.

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