By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamina proposes maintenance budget

“We’re gaining some, we’re losing some,” Forster said. “We’re not where we want to be.”

About $100,000 had to be removed from contingency to produce a workable document.

“That’s not great, but it’s the only way we could balance the budget,” Haight said.

The district is proposing a $7.9 million general fund budget, down about $97,500 from this year. It is based on a projected allocation of about $4.68 million in state support, up about $424,000 from 2012-13.

Part of Forster’s budget message touched on declining enrollment in the district, which he termed a major concern.

By starting a full-service alternative school, the district will be able to retain some students who might otherwise opt to enroll in another district. Another program the district is in the process of launching is a K-8 behavior program, also expected to boost retention.

The district built nine furlough days into the budget. It budgeted for no salary increases, only step increases.

Forster said the district put itself in better shape by contracting with First Student for transportation services. The decision to no longer operate its own bus system has saved the district about $165,000, according to Haight.

“If you hear vicious rumors about every one of the bus drivers losing their jobs, it’s not true,” Forster said.

He said five drivers previously employed by the district were hired by First Student, one went to work for Mid-Columbia, which contracts with the Sheridan School District, and one had been terminated for disciplinary reasons unrelated to driving.

PERS rates are up 6.94 percent, costing the district $238,000. The unemployment tax has increased from 1.3 percent to 1.8 percent, costing another $22,000.

Colette Bryant was elected budget chair and Myra Johnson vice-chair.

The committee will begin its deliberation at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, in the library. It may or may not approve the budget at that time.

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