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Dallas budget picture is looking bright

DALLAS -- A full school year. No furlough days. No layoffs.

April 23, 2013

DALLAS -- A full school year. No furlough days. No layoffs.

That is the reality of Dallas School District's 2013-14 budget presented Monday night. It's one that Dallas Superintendent Christy Perry is still getting used to.

"I think the most important thing is a full school year and no furlough days," Perry said Monday as she presented the budget to the Dallas School District Budget Committee. "I think that is the first time I've said that in maybe five years."

The budget introduced Monday amounts to approximately $34.86 million overall, with a $26.85 million general fund, about $2 million more than in the current year.

Dallas' 2013-14 budget is based on approval of statewide school funding of $6.55 billion for the 2013-15 biennium, and several other measures falling in line.

Other key pieces needing lawmaker approval are House Bill 2456 and Senate Bill 822. The former is a revenue-raising measure worth $275 million and the latter is proposed Oregon Public Employees Retirement System reform. The Oregon House is scheduled to vote on both bills this week.

In addition, May's revenue forecast needs to be positive and the state's corporate kicker diverted to fund schools.

If that seems like a lot, it is, but Perry said she's hearing from local legislators there's a good chance "all those stars will align."

"I wouldn't have presented it if we weren't confident," she said.

The proposed budget does have an unusually low contingency fund of $552,843. The district will use PERS reform savings to build the contingency to a more comfortable $1 million. If reforms fail, the district will propose cuts. Perry said she has proposals for possible cuts, but won't introduce a "reductions list" unless it is absolutely necessary.

Perry also noted the budget proposal doesn't include cost-of-living increases for employees. However, the district still is in negotiations with both of its employee unions. This would be the fourth year in a row with no cost-of-living increases.

"It feels sort of weird to not be sharing cuts and that feels really nice," Perry said. "The stars just have to align."

The budget committee's second meeting is scheduled for May 13 at 6 p.m. at the district office, 111 SW Ash St.

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