Home News Local News Projected shortfall decreases in light of state revenue forecast
Projected shortfall decreases in light of state revenue forecast
La Grande School District’s 2012-13 budget picture looks considerably brighter than it did 10 weeks ago.
La Grande school officials announced in mid March that they feared the district would face a $270,000 shortfall for 2012-13. An uptick in the state’s revenue forecast since then has reduced the district’s projected revenue shortfall considerably.
This was apparent Wednesday night when the district’s proposed 2012-13 spending plan was presented to the school district’s budget committee.
On the plus side, the proposed budget calls for:
• the four school days cut a year ago to be added back at a total cost of about $250,000.
• teachers and classified staff to continue to receive pay increases when they take a step up their salary schedules. Teachers advance up their salary schedule based on experience and education. Classified staff members advance based on experience.
• the pay for extra duty contracts for staff, which was cut 10 percent for 2012-13, be restored to the previous levels. Coaches and advisors for programs like FFA and Future Business Leaders of America are among those who receive extra duty contacts. Presently, the approximate range of extra duty contracts is $1,000 to $4,000.
• stipends to be added for teachers leading the district’s new Professional Learning Communities program. The stipends would be close to what department heads in schools receive, which is about $400 a year.
On the minus side, the proposed budget calls for 3.24 teaching and non teaching positions to be cut. Fortunately, these cuts will be made by not replacing employees who are retiring.
“This is a much better way to cut a budget than to tell people in positions that they are out of work,’’ said La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze.
Proposed to be cut are a full-time kindergarten teaching position, one half of a La Grande High School social studies position, .25 of a La Grande Middle School music teacher position, .25 of an LHS music teacher position, .3 of an LMS food service support position and .94 of an LHS special education paraprofessional position.
The kindergarten teacher position would be cut because enrollment projections indicate that the district will be able to operate its kindergarten program with three instead of four teachers in 2012-13.
Should kindergarten enrollment be higher than anticipated and create a need for another teacher, the district will be able to quickly add one. Glaze explained that the funding needed to hire an additional kindergarten teacher would be kept in reserve.
The school district’s budget reflects a reduction of $436,958 in projected state funding. The decline is expected because of reduced state funding for schools due to the poor economy and falling enrollment. School districts receive about $6,000 from the state per student.
The proposed 2012-13 budget contains just $500 for the district’s Talented and Gifted program. Several budget committee members said this concerned them. They stressed that the needs of high achieving students should not be overlooked.
Glaze pointed out that a number of programs are in place or are being developed to help high achieving students.
In 2012-13, for example, four teachers at LHS will be instructing EOU courses after receiving training through the new Eastern Promise program.
This will add to several programs already in place at LHS which offer students a chance to earn college credit.
Glaze noted that advanced placement classes are now taught at LHS and that students can also earn community college credit via vocational technical classes taught by agriculture and natural resources teacher Paul Anderes.
Martha Frasier, the school district’s special education director, noted that at the grade school level intervention blocks are in place, which assist high achieving students. Intervention blocks are periods in which children who need help reaching state testing benchmarks receive it and those who are meeting or exceeding benchmarks are provided with enrichment activities.
Glaze said the school district needs to do a better job of letting the public know of the programs it is providing for high achieving students.
“We do a lot of things but people just do not see it. We need to do a better job of publicizing them,’’ Glaze said.
The superintendent also pointed out that the district can always do more for high achieving students.
“TAG students need our help and support. They will be our leaders of tomorrow,’’ Glaze said.
The budget committee will meet again on Wednesday to review the proposed 2012-13 budget. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room of Willow Elementary School.