April 25, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE Budget problems for the Enterprise School District are getting worse.

New Superintendent Bill Eggers last year inherited a budget crises that left him with some tough decisions and no easy answers, he said.

There is going to be a lot on the table, Eggers said at a special budget workshop Wednesday. Eggers told participants they could expect additional revenue shortfalls of about $295,000, reducing the general fund budget to about $3.5 million.

The first thing Eggers put on the table was his job. With student census (on which state funding is based) having declined to some 500 students, Eggers questioned if the district can afford three full-time administrative positions.

The 40-person, standing-room-only group reviewed several options, including possible additional staff cuts or borrowing money to get by.

The school board instructed Eggers to have a proposal put together by 7 p.m. Tuesday for a special meeting.

A similar course of action was taken in February when $406,000 was cut from the budget. Some program/positions were eliminated through retirement for the upcoming year and four teachers and custodial and cafeteria staff positions went unfilled.

Dave Carlson, the new elementary school principal, said enrollment has declined another 14 students since February.

School Board Chairman Bill Ables said the district has had a $500,000 ending fund balance the last eight years. Now there is none.

The district will not be receiving the federal forest receipts that were allocated to Oregon by Congress. The funds were diverted in Salem to be shared by Oregons school districts.

Some expenses are also higher than projected. Electricity and fuel costs are up 30 percent, Eggers said.

High school principal Brad Royse said that another complication is that the state, through unfunded mandates, keeps increasing benchmark requirements for schools.

We cant afford to continue to operate the way we have. It looks like these small student-teacher ratios are not going to be around any more, Eggers said.

These small school districts just cant afford some of the luxuries theyve had in the past.