Budget stall delays start for schools

Board considers change in schedule Wednesday

The unprecedented looks imminent.

Schools are likely to start a week late for 2002-03. Weather, labor strikes or a broken boiler are not to blame.

It’s because of the budget.

With about $400,000 less income for September than budgeted, the Hood River County School District School Board will meet Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. at the district office, to decide if school will be postponed until Sept. 9 in order to cut costs.

Superintendent Jerry Sessions sent a letter Aug. 19 informing parents that he will recommend delaying the school year if the State Legislature did not override both of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s budget vetoes. The school payment bill was the only veto the Legislature overrode.

The district will lose $380,000 following the failure to override the veto of HB 4056, the cigarette bonding bill.

The result is a reduced August state school payment for August, the money the schools use to start the year, and the need for adjustments in September.

Meanwhile, the state is forecasting another $100-300 million revenue shortfall in September, and the Legislature is facing a fifth Special Session to deal with the protracted budget impasse.

“It’s frustrating,” Sessions said. “We’re in these positions (in education) because we feel we can make a difference and then here you are hanging in limbo all the time.”

“The hardest part of it is not knowing what will happen,” said Terri Vann, Westside Elementary principal, whose staff has been telling parents that the delay is likely.

“It still depends on the board delaying it, but until it’s official, we have to say to parents, ‘keep an eye on the paper, and listen to the radio,’” Vann said.

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