Sunday, May 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Central School District anticipates a $500,000 to $750,000 revenue shortfall for the 2013-14 biennium, which is leading to a self-examination on long-term budget balancing.
February 12, 2013
MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- Central School District's budget process for 2013-14 won't begin in earnest for another two months.
Recently presented concepts -- some already unpopular -- on how to reorganize the district for sustained financial health will give school leaders and parents plenty to chew on until then.
Closing Henry Hill Elementary School and repurposing the building, schools with shared principals and administrative cuts via attrition were all ideas put forth last week.
Emphasis on the word "ideas," Superintendent Buzz Brazeau said, adding no decisions on any of the options have been made or even thoroughly vetted.
The district anticipates a revenue shortfall of $500,000 to $750,000 for 2013-14 based on the $6.15 billion for K-12 education during the next biennium recommended by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
"Nothing is off the table," said Central School Board President Traci Hamilton. "We're going to have to be creative going forward."
Brazeau said the district is doing a self-examination on how to break the dependence on one-time financial fixes to balance a budget, be it federal aid, spending down contingency funds or emergency layoffs.
That's been a reality for many schools during the last decade, he said.
"We can't afford to continue to do that, because you have to revisit it every year," Brazeau said. "We're trying to get out of that mentality."
One of the ideas Central staff has put forth for discussion is "rightsizing" local elementary schools.
Brazeau said visits to McMinnville School District show that there can be efficiencies and greater educational balance among buildings by having fewer schools with enrollments of 400 or greater than multiple schools with substantially lower enrollment.
The district's three other elementary schools have capacity for almost 500. Henry Hill, which has 267 students -- 22 are kindergartners -- does not.
If "rightsizing" happened, Henry Hill would be utilized as the main district office and serve as a community center and site for special programs. Students would be sent to the district's other buildings.
By streamlining administration and support personnel, savings from the move could total $500,000.
Reorganizing the schools might affect numbers of certain types of teachers, but not the overall teaching staff total, Brazeau said.
"There would have to be adjustments, but that would fall into the area of retirements that have already been announced," Brazeau said. "I don't think it would change the number of teachers in the district significantly."
Central will have three principals -- at the high school and two elementary schools -- retire in June. An idea is to leave some or all of those positions vacant; if a Henry Hill repurposing didn't happen, shared administration among multiple buildings was a possibility.
Other proposals included Brazeau serving as superintendent and Central High principal for a "very small" stipend as opposed to filling the principal position -- salary and benefits for which amount to about $100,000.
Cutting days -- each saves the district about $78,000 -- and staff were also options, though both should be last ditch moves, not the first line of reductions, Brazeau said.
The notion of closing Henry Hill has already raised the ire of some parents.
"It's your family, you know all of the teachers, we walk our kids to school," said Amy Chavez, who's had four children attend the school.
Chavez said a meeting she and about 40 other parents attended about Henry Hill's forthcoming carnival turned into a tense forum on the proposal.
"A lot of people were crying and there was nobody there who said they wanted this to happen," Chavez said. "What I'm worried about is that no matter what the families say or do, the (district) will do whatever they want."
* For more information on the concepts Central School District is exploring regarding its long-term financial health and upcoming meetings, visit www.central.k12.or.us/ or call 503-838-0030.