The La Grande School District’s proposed 2018-19 budget received a big thumbs-up from its budget committee Wednesday night.

The budget committee voted unanimously to recommend the school board adopt the district’s proposed 2018-19 general fund budget of $24.725 million, which calls for it to add a total of about eight positions, including 3.5 teaching positions.

“I’m pleased. This budget will help us do lots of great things for kids,” said La Grande School District Superintendent George Mendoza.

Mendoza noted that the additional teachers will help the school district reduce class sizes and increase services to students.

The school district’s financial situation is strong in large part because of an increase in enrollment each of the past five years. As of Oct. 1, the school district’s official enrollment reporting date, the district had 2,373 students, at least 100 more than at the end of 2016-17 and more than 250 more than in 2012-13.

Enrollment plays a major role because the funding Oregon school districts receive from the state is based upon their enrollment. The La Grande School District presently receives $7,850 per student.

A portion of the staff increases would be funded by money from Measure 98, which voters approved in 2016. Measure 98 calls for the state to provide funding to school districts for career technical education programs and programs that boost graduation rates. The La Grande School District is set to receive $315,000 in Measure 98 funding in 2018-19.

See complete story in Friday's Observer