District officials await enrollment numbers to weigh impact

DALLAS — A series of additional expenses may put the Dallas School District behind its goal — and board policy — to increase its contingency in the 2019-20 school year.

The district added expenses amount to $751,448, and includes:

• Hiring four teachers ($430,948).

• Paying more on insurance costs for classified employees, an adjustment to the classified employees union contract ($189,000).

• Added expense to pay for an interim superintendent following the resignation of former superintendent Michelle Johnstone ($17,500).

• Costs associated with a permanent superintendent search ($25,000).

• Increases legal fees ($15,000).

• Expenses related to special education ($40,000).

• Increased cost of the district’s contract with Polk County for school-based mental health programs ($34,000).

The new teachers will work at LaCreole, Lyle, and Morrison. The district has hired a new special education mentor-teacher to work with special education teachers and provide case load assistance.

Lyle’s new teacher will work in the behavior classroom.

“That was a model change fashioned after Whitworth, with a licensed teacher and one educational assistant,” said Debbie MacLean, the director of fiscal services. “At Lyle before, we had four EAs (in the behavior room).”

MacLean said the district has also had cost savings or money budgeted that will help offset those costs. She said the district has $254,000 to address staffing needs.

“We usually do have to hire additional staffing, so that $254,000 allows for some movement related to class size or other areas that need to be covered,” she said.

Business office employees are close to the 2018-19 fiscal year close-out, and the estimate on what will become the ending-fund balance for that year is about $190,000 higher than previously anticipated.

Administrative staff new hires — principals and assistant principals — have created some savings, as those coming in will be paid less than those leaving.

MacLean said the net impact to the budget is $246,000.

In February, the board adopted a policy of adding 1 percent to its contingency each year until it reaches about 8 percent of annual spending, or an estimated $2.6 million.

“When we compare that to the amount that we set in our 2019-20 contingency that is our planned ending-fund balance for 2019-20, according to the new board (administrative rule) to restore our ending-fund balance. We said we would need $1,589,811 to end the year. That would be required.”

Now she estimates that the balance will be closer to $1.3 million.

“We got some ground to make up to meet that board policy,” MacLean said.

She noted it’s the beginning of the fiscal year, and with enrollment numbers not known until after school resumes, a lot could change.

Last year, practice in the district was to keep a close eye on enrollment compared to estimates given to Oregon Department of Education that determined the amount of money sent to the district out of the State School Fund. Enrollment numbers are reported to ODE in October, and districts can adjust the estimate at that time based on how many students show up.

“We tracked that daily until late October when we were able to make that adjustment with ODE,” MacLean said. “That will be our practice again, day one. When students start showing up, we’ll look at that enrollment, so we can adjust.”

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