Superintendent delivers budget message
Teachers and classified employees have agreed to furloughs annually for years as the district struggled with state funding shortages. In 2012-13, students also have a shortened school year, with 173 school days rather than 174.
Restoring days will be possible next year if the state Legislature devotes $6.55 billion to statewide K-12 education in the 2013-15 biennium, a big jump from the $5.71 billion appropriation of 2011-13. Legislators have still not finalized a funding level, but $6.55 billion is the expected number and the amount on which the McMinnville budget proposal is based.
The Legislature also is considering reforms to the Public Employee Retirement System that could reduce the increase in rates paid by the district.
The rate is set to increase from 12.12 percent to 19.4 percent, which will cost the district another $2 million. Proposed reforms could mean McMinnville’s rate increases only to 17.4 percent.
If that happens, Russell said, McMinnville will have to cut less in order to balance its budget. But even with PERS reform, she said, tight funding will make this the third consecutive biennium of program reductions.
She and administrators gave the district committee two lists of proposed reductions, one based on PERS reform and the other, a more extensive list, on no reforms.
The first list of proposed reductions would 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 would 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 would save money by creating its own specialized classroom for autistic elementary students, instead of sending them to a program in another district. It would 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 “no PERS reform” list would include cutting five teaching positions, which would raise the average class size by one-half at the elementary and high school levels. It also would trim 34 hours of classified time.
With or without PERS reform, Russell said administrators are proposing to use $500,000 from the reserve fund in order to keep from making more drastic cuts. The district has been dipping into its reserve funds to balance the budget since the recession.
The superintendent said she is pleased that the proposed budget will restore a full school year for staff and students. Even with the necessary cuts, she said, “McMinnville students benefit from an exceptional staff and community. I am confident students will continue to prosper in our schools.”
The budget committee will continue its deliberations on the proposed budget when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, in the district office. The committee will draw up a proposal for the school board, which will give final approval to the budget prior to June 30.
For more information, call the district office, at 503-565-4000.