School board finalizes budget

The Hood River County School District Board of Directors unanimously approved the 2002-03 budget Wednesday. The adoption of the school district budget makes official several personnel cuts and other spending reductions district-wide for the upcoming school year.

“We passed the budget based on the Legislature coming up with the money to fund it,” Superintendent Jerry Sessions said. “We were hoping they’d be done with that by now, but they’re still working on it.” State lawmakers in Salem are mired in their third special session of the year trying to resolve an $860 million budget shortfall.

Despite protests from teachers, administrators and students at the last budget committee meeting in April over the pending cuts, no one came to comment at Wednesday’s meeting — though passing the budget this week was basically a formality.

The district personnel cuts are:

* One full-time 5th grade teacher at Parkdale Elementary School eliminated;

* One full-time 4th grade teacher at Mid Valley Elementary School eliminated;

* One full-time kindergarten teacher at Cascade Locks School reduced to half-time;

* One full-time child development specialist at the elementary level eliminated (the district is in the process of writing a grant for the position in hopes of restoring it);

* One half-time music position at Hood River Middle School eliminated;

* One half-time media specialist position at Wy’east Middle School eliminated;

* One full-time social studies teacher, one half-time media position, one half-time shop position and a one-third time math position at Hood River Valley High School eliminated.

Some of the reductions have come through normal attrition, with staff members retiring or resigning voluntarily, while others have been eliminated due to funding reductions.

Further reductions to the approved budget were made by tightening spending allocations district-wide on instructional supplies, textbooks, equipment and staff development.

In addition, 8½ coaching positions have been eliminated at the high school level, all of them assistant coaching posts. These cuts will keep the district from having to eliminate any programs.

Sessions said the board anticipates increased expenses in the athletic budget when HRVHS sports teams begin traveling to schools in the Intermountain Conference this fall. He said funds had earlier been included in the transportation budget for the possibility of the conference change and the financial effects it will likely have.

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