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Schools face yet another year of reductions

Hood River County School District is facing its ninth straight year of financial reductions.

Supt. Dan Goldman explained during Wednesday’s school board meeting that $7.25 million has already been reduced from programs in the past five years, with the district facing another $1 million in reductions this year. Making further cuts is “painstaking work,” he said.

“There’s not one reduction we can make at this point that won’t affect kids.”

There are several reasons for the decrease in funding, he said, including a decline in weighted enrollment, a change in the poverty formula mid-year, and increased operational costs.

The district has a history of using reserve funds to fill in budget gaps, but with those funds running low, it’s not fiscally responsible to rely on reserves to balance next year’s budget, Goldman said. Instead, the district is looking for ways to build reserves back up.

As it currently stands, elementary schools will take a 12-pecent cut, middle school 19-percent, high school 32-percent, and district-wide programs 37-percent. As part of those cuts, classified staff will be reduced by 5 percent, administration 3 percent, and licensed staff 2 percent.

Goldman said that resource priorities include protecting elementary class sizes, continuing strong reading, writing and math programs, investing in upgraded teaching materials, and keeping a full-year class schedule without furlough days.

Sandra Buchanan, chief financial officer, followed Goldman, reporting that the overall general fund for 2013-14 is 83.2 percent of budget, with the largest revenue sources being property taxes and the approved local option.

Increased operational costs are expected in the coming year, she said, such as salary and associated payroll costs and utilities.

“Negotiations are in process with the Hood River Education Association,” Buchanan said. “That will dictate the budget there. We’ll have more refined numbers in about a week and a half.”

The Budget Committee will meet May 6 at the Hood River Valley High School library beginning at 6:30 p.m., and is additionally scheduled to meet May 13 and May 27 as needed. This is a public meeting; a copy of the budget document may be inspected or obtained on or after May 6 at the District Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or online at hoodriver.k12.or.us.

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