Schools face potential cuts of $3.15 million

January 21

A round of informal budget forums starts next month, as Hood River County School District faces cuts totalling up to $3.15 million from the 2004-05 budget if Measure 30 fails on the Feb. 3 ballot.

Roughly half the cuts would be in licensed and classified staffing, including up to 18 teaching jobs. Even with Measure 30 passage, the district will need to cut back by $339,204, according to Superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady.

“The numbers are a worst-case scenario,” Dr. Evenson-Brady said. “We have looked at it, and now we know what we have to do if we hit bottom. It ain’t pretty,” she said.

“We’ll have almost weekly changes in the figures until about August,” Evenson-Brady said. “It is always a moving target. We never know until the school year is over because the figures are based on the number of students enrolled.”

The public’s first chance to give their feedback on budget priorities will be at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5 in Cascade Locks, with the first of four budget forums. Budget forums are also planned on Feb. 9 at Hood River Valley High School library (5 p.m.); Feb. 24 at Wy’east Middle School (6 p.m.); and Feb. 26 at the District Office (7:30 p.m.)

“The forums will be an informal opportunity for discussions,” Evenson-Brady said.

“The board wanted to provide expanded opportunities to comment on the proposed budget.” The forums will gather that input before the budget is drafted by staff and presented to the Budget Committee and, subsequently, the School Board.

School Board members and the Budget Committee will listen to comments, answer questions, and compile input for use by the Budget Committee.

“The School Board desired broad input beofre the budget developed, rather than after the fact,” Evenson-Brady said. The public will have more opportunities to comment on the budget itself, once the committee starts deliberations April 6.

At Wednesday’s Budget Committee organizational meeting, Evenson-Brady presented the panel with a list of “potential budget reductions” in its meeting Wednesday at the District Office. Under the tentative plan, the district would:

* Cut four school days this year and another four in 2004-05;

* Cut 10 staff members (6.75 teachers) at Hood River Valley High School, 13 elementary staff (6.75 teachers) and 7.5 middle school staff (four teachers) for a total savings of about $1.6 million;

* Reduce textbook purchases by 66 percent, reduce building maintenance by one-fourth;

* Eliminate some HRVHS and Cascade Locks high school sports and activity programs and reduce others;

* Eliminate all middle school sports.

Other cuts would include reducing one assistant superintendent position to half-time, and cut nearly $100,000 in supplies and technology throughout the district.

The forums are essentially a repeat of similar events held by the district one year ago as it dealt with $1.05 million in cuts to the 2003-04 budget. In the 2002-03 budget, the district cut $2.08 million.

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