Morrison spared in budget

DALLAS -- The Dallas School District's budget for 2009-10, approved May 27, keeps Morrison Campus Alternative School open but eliminates elementary school music programs.



DALLAS -- The Dallas School District's budget for 2009-10, approved May 27, keeps Morrison Campus Alternative School open but eliminates elementary school music programs.

Superintendent Christy Perry presented her recommendations based on the recent figure of the state school fund of $5.6 billion.

"We're getting fairly clear instructions that you need to plan based on the state school fund you receive," Perry said at the school district's budget committee meeting May 27.

Since recommending the proposed budget on April 27, Perry suggested the new budget be set at $17,641,777, a slight increase from $17,605,561.

To reach the new figure, she recommended cutting one full time Morrison position, two elementary music teachers and increasing the contingency fund to create a better safety net.

"The big tragedy on the list is elementary music," Perry said.

There is no state mandate for elementary music and the district would have to cut three school days to save the program.

School Board Member Lu Ann Meyer suggested taking out a loan or asking the community for an operating levy to keep elementary music.

"At some point we have to draw the line and say 'these are critical programs for our students,'" Meyer said.

The suggestion was met with mixed reaction on the board and committee. Perry said she did not think the community would support any kind of a loan. Board Member Michael Blanchard said he didn't know how the district could pay off a loan during the next year.

On a positive note, art and a media specialist will still be included at the middle school, and family and consumer science will still be offered at the high school. Each was at risk of being cut in earlier budget discussions.

One significant recommendation was not to cut school days. Perry had recommended eliminating four days, but has suggested maintaining staffing levels for one full school year and cutting program funding instead. This way, if the funding picture becomes more grim, the district can cut days first rather than making mid-year layoffs and program cuts.

Reducing one full position at Morrison means the school that now accepts 85 to 90 juniors and seniors will take only 56 to 60 students in 2009-10.

Budget committee members expressed frustration over needing to adopt the budget by June 1 when the Oregon Legislature is not supposed to vote on its budget until June 30. Tami Montague, the district's business manager, said if a battle over funding arises at the State Capitol the district could be waiting even longer than that.

Perry said she does not believe the $5.4 billion estimate for the state school fund is solid and is continuing to prepare a plan for a worst-case scenario. In the next year or two, the district will be biting its fingernails until each economic forecast comes out.



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