March 04, 2002 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE More than 50 people packed the school library to hear more bad budget news at Mondays Enterprise School Board meeting.

Cutting our hands off with this barebones budget is how a teacher described proposed budget cuts to meet the $572,500 shortfall expected in next years $3.715 million budget.

Youre preaching to the choir. We dont want these cuts, responded a board member, lamenting the states control of funding resulting from Ballot Measure 5, a property tax reduction measure that Oregon voters approved in 1990.

In spite of $25,000 sports program reductions already made and of no plans to replace either resigning Superintendent Bill Eggers or retiring high school art teacher Gary Wishart, it looks like high school and grade school art and other programs may have to be eliminated or reduced.

Ideas explored to save the programs included the Enterprise Education Foundations upcoming plans to try to get 1,000 people to make tax-deductible donations of $300 per year. Their kickoff fund-raiser is planned for 7 p.m. March 20.

Another request for help is in the form of an Education Service District application for a $240,000 federal grant for poor rural schools. A 10 percent local match would be needed Eggers said.

The board authorized Eggers to look into the possibility of the district going to a four-day school week as Joseph and Wallowa decided to do. Its expected to save Enterprise some $20,000, Eggers said.

The 28-credit graduation requirement may also have to be reduced, because of possible additional staff and program reductions.

School consolidation was mentioned but not considered because Enterprise and Joseph would lose a combined $400,000 in small rural school state aid, board member Kathy Siebe said. Both boards are willing to work together, she said, and in the future might be able to share some programs.

The board tabled the four-page recommended budget cuts. They will be considered at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. A public hearing also will be conducted to consider an application to grant a permit for a charter school within the district.

The proposed budget reductions included reducing agriculture, home economics and the kindergarten programs to one-half time, and cutting:

A primary-grade teacher position.

A special math-reading position.

Special education help.

Instructional assistants.

A cheerleading adviser, assistant wrestling coach, golf and cross-country coaches and the deputy clerk position (by contracting the clerks duties with the ESD).

Any new textbooks or technology, purchases.

In addition, there would be no cash carryover.

Effective June 30, Eggers is resigning. His position will be assumed by current high school principal Brad Royse, who will also become the grades K-6 principal. The districts elementary principal, Dave Carlson, will become junior high and high school principal.

The districts anticipated loss of state revenue is directly related to declining enrollment, Eggers said. The current years reduction in students from 540 to 506 resulted in a loss of income of $200,000. The present student population is down 135 from six years ago, he said.

On another issue, the board decided to put on the May ballot a $2.4 million building remodeling bond.

The decision followed a recent phone survey of 200 patrons who rejected the idea of replacing the old middle school building, but overwhelmingly said theyd support a remodeling bond, Eggers said.