June 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

UNION Budget problems caused by a declining enrollment are forcing the Union School District to cut $125,000 from its 2001-02 budget.

The reduction will be made in part by cutting two half-time physical education teaching positions, one baseball assistant coach, one softball assistant coach and a cheerleading adviser.

Non-personnel budget reductions also will be made. For example, the school district is cutting its planned textbook expenditures from $65,000 to $20,000.

Trimming the half-time physical education positions will save the district about $40,000 in salaries and benefits, said Union School District Superintendent Mike Wood. One of the teachers whose position was eliminated has found another job in the district. The other physical education teacher had a temporary position.

The elimination of the two assistant coaching and the cheerleading adviser positions will save the district about $12,000.

The reductions mean that the district will have a 2001-02 general fund budget of about $3.7 million, about $125,000 less than the present years figure.

Wood emphasized that all of the districts programs will remain intact in spite of the cuts.

We did not lose any part of our academic programs, Wood said.

He said it is important for the Union School District to retain its programs so that it will be able to continue to attract new students.

New students are valued because school districts receive about $5,000 per student in state support. Unions budget, like those of most Northeast Oregon school districts, has been hit by a declining enrollment. Union has 450-460 students, down from 497 two years ago.

The Union School District is not only trimming $125,000 but it is also being forced to dip into its contingency fund. About $100,000 is being taken from the fund to balance the budget. This will leave the school district with about $100,000 remaining in the fund.

The school board will vote on adoption of its proposed budget when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the high school music room. A budget hearing will be conducted during the first half hour of the meeting. Questions about the budget will be answered.

The board will vote later in the meeting on adopting the budget.