March 12, 2002 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE A prestigious 26-year-old art program is one of the painful losses to be suffered as the budget ax falls on the Enterprise School District.

The district will have to cut $572,500 from the $3.715 million needed to maintain the current level.

The board grappled with the dilemma March 4 but postponed action in response to audience appeals to save programs.

Virtually the same four-page budget reduction proposal was adopted unanimously at Monday nights special meeting with an audience of some 40 people.

The districts anticipated loss of revenue is directly related to declining enrollment, down this year from 540 to 506 students.

This time around $83,400 is being cut from administration. Resigning Superintendent Bill Eggers is not being replaced and the deputy clerk position will be eliminated by contracting those duties with the Education Service District.

The school will be left with two administrators. High school principal Brad Royse and grade school principal David Carlson will essentially switch roles, and Royce will assume the additional responsibility of superintendent.

Some other reductions:

Award-winning art teacher Gary Wishart will not be replaced;

a retiring English teacher will not be replaced;

agriculture and home economics will become half time;

athletics will be reduced;

a primary school teacher will be lost;

other elementary programs, including art, special education and math-reading assistance will be reduced.

The declining enrollment, loss of funds and reduced programs are a continuation of a recent trend. In the past four years, the English department has been reduced from four to 1 1/2 instructors, said English teacher Ron Osterloh.

The Enterprise Education Foundation is trying to save the existing school programs scheduled for elimination. A kickoff fund-raiser starts at 7 p.m. March 20 in the Enterprise School gym.