Schools looking at two budget prospects

District schedules three ‘listening sessions’

Superintendent Dan Goldman offered a two-version view of the 2018-19 budget for Hood River County School District in Wednesday’s meeting.

One version allows for slight growth in programs; the other would involve cutting the equivalent of 35 staff members district-wide.

Goldman told the board that district staff is preparing two potential budgets, depending on the outcome of the Local Option vote on the May 15 ballot. (Hood River News will have a Primary ballot recap in the April 18 edition.)

“With the Local Option we’re expanding, without it we’re really retracting,” Goldman said.

Under the Local Option, the continued rate of $1.25 per $1,000 assessed value is estimated to raise $2.5 million per year. Passage would result in “matching” revenue from the state equal to approximately 23 percent of local option revenue collected, or approximately $560,000 per year. The owner of a property valued at $300,000 would pay $375 per year.

Loss of the levy would be the equivalent of 6 percent of the annual budget, according to Goldman.

“A 6 percent budget is a crazy thing too,” Goldman said, pointing out that with 85 percent of the budget going to salaries, benefits and other personnel-related costs, “it’s not just a matter of cutting back on paper.”

Goldman announced he is scheduling public “listening sessions” to take input from the community on structuring the budget in case of the need to make cuts. Those could result in larger class sizes, loss of electives, and reduced maintenance and secretarial services.

The sessions will be April 24 at Wy’east Middle School and April 30 at Hood River Middle School, along with a May 1 session at Hood River Valley High School that will be in Spanish only.

All sessions are scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

The Hood River County School District’s five-year request is for renewal the existing Local Option Levy. It has been approved by the voters of Hood River County since 2004.

This measure would continue providing funds to help HRCSD preserve the equivalent of approximately 15 teaching and 30 support staff positions, protect core academic programs, electives, and class sizes at every school, and maintain a full school year for all children. In addition, it would preserve advanced placement, career-technical and dual credit courses, sustain extracurricular athletics and intramural programs, electives and co-curricular activities including P.E., music, fine arts, engineering, and computer science and provide Community Education programs and community access.

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