Schools discover $1 million boost

State education’s budget adjustment allows school district to consider lower Local Option amount

May 28, 2005

A two-year-old breeze brought a cool million-dollar windfall last week to cash-strapped Hood River County School District.

Business manager Nick Hogan had the ironic task of informing the board that it now has a great deal more money to spend for 2005-06 than its members had previously thought.

The surprising development was a $1.1 million check from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) reflecting school support payment adjustments based on revisions in what the state owed the school for the 2003-04 school year.

“Never in my five years as a business manager have I seen anything like a $1.1 million adjustment in favor of a district — it usually goes the other way,” Hogan said in his report to the board Wednesday at Wy’east Middle School.

The adjustment was largely because of increases in overall enrollment and in the number of English as a Second Language (ESL) students in particular.

“I’m fairly confident we’ll have some additional money to address staffing needs, particularly ESL,” superintendent Pat Evenson-Brady said.

She called the funding development “truly unprecedented. Really bizarre.” The district now faces the challenge of how to spend $1.1 million it never expected to receive. The board will consider the question in a work session on June 8 in its meeting at Parkdale Elementary.

Hogan said funding adjustments are normally issued in October of the following year, but this one came early, in May, and as a surprise.

“At first I thought they actually made a mistake,” Hogan said. New people at the ODE finance department, combined with new software used to calculate payments to school districts.

The additional $1.1 million comes about for six main reasons, the largest being the 194-student increase in ESL students. The district receives $5,188 per student plus an additional 50 percent of the basic payment, to cover the added costs of serving ESL students. That came to an additional $503,236 to the district. The second largest funding infusion was $379,620 in standard per-student funding increase; the state raised the figure from the projected $5,112 to $5,188 for 2003-04. In the third largest category, pregnant and parenting students, the district was inexplicably projected to have no qualifying students in 2003-04, but it actually had 22. Multiplied by $5,188, that brought in an additional $114,136.

Overall student count went up from 3,715 to 3,726 in 2003-04; those 11 students multiplied by $5,188 came to another $47,688. Unanticipated increases in transportation grant funds and payments to cover high need special education students reaped another $78,000 for the district.

Fiscally, the adjustment is attributed to two things: First, it turned out that in 2003-04 there were one percent fewer students overall in Oregon. That meant a slight adjustment in money coming to all districts, and Hood River, with a two percent annual growth rate, reaped the benefit.

The second factor was the overall increase in property tax revenue statewide. With the revised 2003-04 numbers, and receipt of the $1.1 million check, the district’s total ending fund balance — the revenue it carries over from one year to the next — has jumped from $523,000 to $1,541,885. That is the figure the board will be looking at on June 8.

Hogan said that there was no indication of the extra money when he made his annual call to the Department of Education in January for a preliminary preview of the adjustments.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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