School budget cuts are certain, superintendent says


Dan Goldman

Making up days is one thing — making up a budget shortfall is another.

Superintendent Dan Goldman presented a report on the foreboding fiscal challenge facing Hood River County School District in 2017-18 and beyond.

“It’s just painful,” he said of the task of preparing a “levels of reduction” plan — positions and programs will almost certainly need to be cut, he said. Goldman is working with other district administrators on the contingency plan and will present it to the board at the Feb. 22 meeting. It would go into place after the upcoming budget process is complete, and after the State Legislature meets and works out how to make up an expected $1.8 billion revenue shortfall.

“I don’t see a pathway where we are not going to have to make some cuts,” Goldman said.

It was not the only piece of bad news Goldman presented Thursday. He also reported that the Coe Building and District Office, which house administration and support services, have taken a huge hit from the weather, and Coe had to be temporarily evacuated due to plumbing, electrical and roofing issues. Coe staff doubled up in the District Office, which is why Thursday’s board meeting was held at the Port of Hood River office: the district board room is currently housing the informational technology department, which had to move from Coe.

The two days of school lost due to snow this week will be made up though incremental adding of minutes over the rest of the school year, he said. “I am confident we will have kids done with school by June 16 — unless it snows again,” he said

The district has lost a record 10 days of school due to weather this year. Last week the district made its second snow-related 2016-17 calendar adjustment of the year, reaching an agreement with the Hood River Education Association to make up what was then six of those days.

“We don’t have a lock-down plan in place yet, but we get there by adding minutes to our instruction days,” in order to make up the 15 instructional hours lost this week, Goldman said.

In addition to the Coe closure, the district had to deal with a power outage and a natural gas leak Wednesday in the District Office building, forcing evacuating for several hours. Goldman said that as the district looks at how it will spend new capital bond money on facility improvements, he doubts that it is worth putting more money into upgrading the two buildings. The gas leak happened when a section of ice sheared the line of the roof, according to Goldman, just one more weather-related problem for the district.

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