School District will receive a $2.1 million bump

Hood River County School District received a well-timed windfall on Monday.

The district learned over the weekend that it will receive an additional, and unexpected, $2.1 million in state school support funding over the next two school years.

Finance director Nick Hogan presented the budget news to the committee, saying that the surprise, one-time-only infusion of funds for the next biennium came as a result of the way the state Department of Education now calculates each district’s share of state school funding based on numbers of charter school students.

It stems from House Bill 3417, enacted in January 2011. HRCSD currently has no charter students, but it did in 2011-12, with the former Dos Mundos program. Under HB 3417 the school support distribution is based on the fact that the district had 259 charter students at that time. The district’s one-time share works out to about $8,000 per charter student, the state average.

The news meant Monday’s first meeting of the district budget committee was much shorter than scheduled, as the district’s administrative cabinet will meet and take another look at the 2013-14 budget in light of the additional funds.

A new budget committee meeting was added, May 20 at 6:30 p.m. at HRVHS library, at which time the committee will get its first look at the retooled budget, according to board chair Jan Veldhuisen Virk.

Superintendent Charlie Beck said the effect on the proposed budget will cut, in about half, the estimated $1.4 million in reductions announced two weeks ago.

“We want to make it sustainable over two years; if we use one-time only dollars to balance a budget, the next year you don’t have those dollars but you still have those elevated costs,” Beck said. “So what you try to do is anticipate what it would take over two years, so we know about what we will get next year, and we want to make sure this will help us cover two years.”

Virk said, “Our goal is still to remain sustainable, and we’re going to have to be really careful and remember that this is one-time money, as wonderful as it is, and it is wonderful.

“It’s great news but its going to be really important as a district that we’re going to have to figure out how to be sustainable and not see this as another year’s ‘okay, we get to keep going.’ So we need to be cautious with this money,” Virk said.

Board member Liz Whitmore was elected budget committee chair and community member Chip Dickenson was named vice chair. HB 3417 is now taking effect based on the time lag involved in writing and putting into place the specific procedures for enacting the law, according to school board member Mark Johnson, who is also a state legislator.

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