Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
March 13, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- Central School District leaders say a proposed 14.6 percent increase for K-12 education funding in Oregon during the next biennium will factor into the discussion about whether to close Henry Hill Elementary School to save money.
"It will give us pause, I think," said Traci Hamilton, chairwoman of Central School Board. "We have to look at that and how this affects the community."
Officials have been looking at a way to reduce annual expenses and shore up a projected $750,000 shortfall for the 2013-14 budget. One option to reduce overhead has been to close Henry Hill and increasing the size of the remaining three elementary schools.
That scenario is based upon $6.15 billion for public schools in Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget. Last week, the Joint Ways and Means Committee released its desired state spending for the next two years that includes $6.55 billion for education.
Central business manager Cec Koontz said that higher appropriation would allow Central to avoid major cuts through 2015, though the district wouldn't be able to invest in new technology or critically-needed curriculum updates.
The $6.55 billion still hinges on several other variables, such as prison reform and reductions to the state employee pension plan.
Despite the hoped-for funding boost, district staff is still recommending right-sizing for long-term savings on expenses and to free up more resources and materials for elementary schools.
"We're looking at all options at this point," said Kathy Zehner, district board member.
Central School Board was to have considered the Henry Hill proposal at a work session after press time. An update will appear in next week's Itemizer-Observer.