The Imbler School District’s general fund budget may rise by 1 percent in 2018-19.

The district’s budget committee has recommended that the school board adopt a budget of $5.331 million for 2018-19, which is $54,985 higher than the district’s 2017-18 budget.

“We feel pretty good about our budget for next year,” said Angie Lakey-Campbell, superintendent of the Imbler School District.

The proposed budget will allow the school district to maintain its staffing level and programs, Lakey-Campbell said. The solid budget picture is credited in part to a funding increase the Legislature granted to school districts in 2017 for the 2017-19 biennium.

The Imbler School District’s budgeting process has been made easier by the fact that the school district negotiated two-year contracts with its teachers and classified staff a year ago. The school district’s classified staff includes its secretaries, custodians and teacher assistants.

The two-year pact has helped the school district with its budgeting process because it means the district knew ahead of time how much its payroll costs will be in 2018-19, Lakey-Campbell said.

The superintendent said the school district is being conservative in its budgeting in part because of rising Public Employees Retirement System costs. The cost of what Imbler and all Oregon school districts must pay into PERS is scheduled to jump dramatically in 2019-20. The Imbler School District is already paying $550,000 a year into PERS.

The cost of PERS payments “is always hanging over us,” Lakey-Campbell said.

Although Imbler has a reserve fund from which it can draw money to cover PERS, the district is looking at other options for addressing these expenses.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer