May 01, 2001 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE Three more teachers will lose their jobs at Enterprise Elementary School next fall.

The school district also plans to borrow money to help it deal with growing budget problems, it was decided at a meeting Tuesday night.

Student census and corresponding state funding has been falling in the elementary school. Wallowa County has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

Since a special meeting last week, the school board has been grappling with the dilemma of how to make hard decisions.

Superintendent Bill Eggers proposal was accepted to make some cuts and borrow $180,000 to $250,000 to buy time in order to examine all the possibilities and make quality decisions, rather than being reactive.

The board also heard from both principals and considered options offered from the standing-room-only crowd of 70.

Are we cutting deep enough? asked an opponent to borrowing. Others suggested that more money be borrowed to prevent losing any more teachers.

Elementary principal Dave Carlson recommended that the teaching positions be cut in the first, fourth and fifth grades, leaving 15 teachers for the 332 elementary students. This would be accomplished by creating one blended class of first- and second-graders. It likely will be two weeks before it is determined which teachers will be cut.

It was questioned why no administrative positions or any of the 14 teaching positions remaining from February cuts at the 182-student high school were being eliminated.

High school principal Brad Royse said there will be 20 more high school students next year and another 30 the following year. Each student represents about $5,000 in state support.

Royse also cited the K-12 site councils recommendation that the district improve technology opportunities at all grade levels and increase students meeting state benchmarks for math 4 percent annually.

The council also recommended the board try to maintain high school FFA and home economics programs, art and music in both the elementary and high schools, and keep elementary physical education.

The elementary music and P.E. programs are being cut and added to the classroom curriculum of the remaining teachers.

Consolidation of programs and administration was suggested by an audience member. It was suggested that the Enterprise and Joseph school boards meet to brainstorm.

The next regular board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday.