School district cutting full-time positions

By Dick Mason, The Observer April 05, 2013 11:08 am

Unexpected loss of funds to blame for reductions 

by Dick Mason/The Observer

NORTH POWDER — Sometimes more is less.

This is proving to be a sad and ironic truth for the North Powder School District.

The school district recently learned that a jump in its grade school enrollment will cost it about $170,000 in state revenue. The school district has been forced to cut 3-1/2 full-time classified staff positions and a full-time teaching position over the past three weeks as a result. 

The classified staff position cuts took effect in late March. The teaching position cut becomes effective April 18.

North School District Superintendent Lance Dixon said the cuts he has to oversee are perhaps the most difficult thing he has had to do as an educator.

“If this is what administrators had to every year, nobody would want to (work as a school administrator),” Dixon said. “People do not go into administration to cut positions.”

The positions cut, plus reductions in other areas, including supply expenditures, will save the school district $140,000, allowing the school district to finish the year in the black.

The school district was forced to make these reductions because enrollment at North Powder Elementary jumped nine students to 109 this school year. The increase means the district will lose about $170,000 in what it receives from the state’s fund to help isolated small districts, informally known as the small rural school correction fund, a fund which provides small school districts, which are a minimum number of miles from other public schools, with additional funding. 

North Powder is further from other school districts than most in Union and Wallowa counties. North Powder as a result receives additional money from the small rural school correction fund. 

Dixon credits the school district’s board and staff with doing an excellent job of stepping forward to help in wake of the financial hardship. He said earlier this week, the school district’s teachers voted to work two days without pay this spring in order to help the district financially.

 “The reason we’re able to survive is because of a great board and staff. A lot of people have stepped up during this traumatic time in a big way,” Dixon said.