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Schools eye extra money
Extra school funding authorized from state may be used to bring down class sizes
A bill passed by the Oregon Legislature during its three-day special session last week may help the La Grande and Enterprise school districts reduce class sizes in 2014-15.
House Bill 5101 will provide schools with an additional $100 million in 2014-15 with funding obtained via a tax increase package.
The La Grande School District will receive about $150,000. It has not been determined how the school district will spend the extra money. La Grande superintendent Larry Glaze said it is likely that it will be used to hire additional teachers at La Grande High School to bring down the size of some of its classes.
“We will look at adding additional staff at the high school,” Glaze said.
The additional teachers are needed because enrollment at the high school is now about 630, up about 40 students from a year ago. The jump has boosted the size of some classes.
“Some classes at the high school have as many as 36 or 37 students. We need to address this,” Glaze said.
The added funds amount to just over a 1 percent increase in school funding statewide. This boosts state school funding from $6.55 billion to $6.65 billion this biennium.
The Enterprise School District will receive between $70,000 and $75,000. Enterprise superintendent Brad Royse also said the money might be used to hire an additional teacher to bring down class sizes. Class counts are up because enrollment has jumped about 17 students from a year ago.
The Elgin School District will receive about $50,000 in additional funding from House Bill 5101. Elgin superintendent Wayne Herron said he would like to see the extra funding go toward hiring a music teacher. The school district cut its music teacher position several years ago because of a funding shortfall.
“My first priority is to add back a music teacher,” Herron said. “It is important that we get it back.”
The additional $50,000 would not be enough to cover the complete salary and benefits of adding a full-time music teacher, but it would cover a substantial part of the expense.
Union School District Superintendent Carter Wells wants to make sure the money from HB 5101 is in hand before discussions begin on how to spend it.
“We’re waiting to make sure that the money comes in before we make any decisions on which way to go,” Wells said.
Imbler School District Superintendent Doug Hislop said he also will wait to find out precisely how much money his district will receive before making
“Any additional dollars we get will be used to help in places we elected to cut back in because we did not have resources or areas we have not addressed because of lack of funding,” he said.