Schools looking at $896,000 in budget cuts next year

Superintendent Dan Goldman calls for renewed focus, and funding, for literacy at an education forum in September 2014.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Superintendent Dan Goldman calls for renewed focus, and funding, for literacy at an education forum in September 2014.

Saying “it will be impossible to make cuts that don’t affect kids,” Superintendent Dan Goldman announced that he expects budget cuts totaling $896,000 will be required of Hood River County School District for the 2015-16 school year.

That’s about $96,000 more than the district dealt with two years ago when it had to make about $800,000 in budget cuts due to a flatlined biennial budget in 2013.

Goldman said the grim HRCSD budget picture is now clearer following last week’s Oregon Legislature approval of a $7.235 billion biennial budget.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Johnson announced Friday he has filed a priority bill aimed at securing additional funding for Oregon schools through the May revenue forecast, scheduled for release on May 14.

Up to a total of 12 HRCSD classified and certified positions will need to be cut, along with reductions in special education, sports, transportation, English Language Learners program, and more.

The cuts will certainly mean larger class sizes, according to Goldman.

“Oregon is already 49th in the nation for number of kids in classes, and this (state budget) will do nothing but maybe push us to 50th,” he said. “Our priorities are off. We need to be reinvesting in our education system,” he said.

Johnson, a Hood River Republican serving Dist. 52 and HRCSD school board member, said, “In contrast to the K-12 budget that recently passed the House and Senate, which only directs 40 percent of the May revenue forecast to K-12 education, House Bill 3538, directs 100 percent of the May revenue forecast to K-12 funding.”

The bill has been referred to House Revenue Committee for further advancement.

Next step for HRCSD is the May 6 district budget committee meeting on May 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Hood River Valley High School.

Goldman also invited community members to attend the Legislative budget “road show” event April 16 at 7 p.m. at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, to give feedback to legislators.

Goldman said a projected 7.5 teaching positions and 5.5 classified (instruction aides, custodians, secretarial, for example) and .5 to 1.0 administrative positions are scheduled for cuts.

He said schools will certainly see reduced electives in career education and special education, among others, and cuts in transportation will mean fewer bus runs.

On HB 3538, Johnson said in a press release, “The K-12 education budget that was passed on a party-line vote is inadequate, underfunds our schools, and does nothing to help alleviate large class sizes and outdated curricula. Just this week, I attended our school board meeting in Hood River and saw firsthand the potential consequences of layoffs and the loss of instructional days as a result of this budget,” said Rep. Johnson, who’s currently serving his third term on the Hood River County School Board. “Directing 100 percent of the May revenue forecast to K-12 funding will help address these concerns by stabilizing local budgets. I’m hopeful that my colleagues will recognize the need for this significant investment by scheduling a public hearing and work session on this proposal to continue this discussion.

“Despite opposing letters and testimony from dozens of school districts across the state, as well as statements from Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate criticizing the amount of funding, the Legislature chose to move forward with a $7.255 billion budget that shortchanges Oregon’s schools. According to teachers, superintendents, school board members and parents, this budget would impose significant consequences upon Oregon school districts, including overcrowded class sizes of 40+ students; layoffs of teachers and school administrators; outdated curricula, textbooks and other materials; and dilapidated facilities and resources.

“Since there’s broad consensus among both Republicans and Democrats in the building to increase education funding this biennium, I’m calling on the Legislature to take action now and devote 100 percent of the May revenue forecast to K-12 schools to show a true commitment to our students,” said Rep. Johnson.

HB 3538 is chief sponsored by Johnson and Sen. Chuck Thomsen of Hood River.

Wednesday’s school board meeting was not all bad news; Goldman announced two awards to staff: Keith Bassham won the 5A OSAA Athletic Director of the Year Award and Andy Angstrom, Hood River Middle School math and engineering teacher, earned the April Legos Education award for his robotics instruction.

Goldman also announced the departure of Kevin Noreen, human resources director, who has been hired for the same position with Forest Grove School District.

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