The Imbler School District’s budget may rise by 4.9% in 2019-20.

The district’s budget committee is considering approving a general fund budget of $5.54 million for 2019-20, which is $261,929 more than the present year’s budget.

The proposed budget would allow the school district to maintain all of its staff and programs, said Imbler School District Superintendent Angie Lakey-Campbell.

On the downside, the proposed spending plan calls for the school district to draw $267,000 from its reserve fund to balance its budget.

“Anytime you have to draw from your contingency fund it is concerning,” Lackey-Campbell said.

The superintendent added the school district would continue to have a strong reserve fund should the proposed budget be adopted.

“If an emergency comes up, we will be able to take care of it,” Lakey-Campbell said.

She credits the school district’s strong reserve fund to good decisions made by Imbler’s school board in the past.

“The board has done a nice job of managing the district,” she said. One reason the school district may have to draw from its reserve fund is that it is being hurt by rising Public Employees Retirement System expenses. The cost that Imbler and all Oregon school districts must pay into PERS is scheduled to jump dramatically in 2019-20. The Imbler School District’s PERS cost is expected to be $91,000. The district had already been paying at least $30,000 a year into PERS.

Lakey-Campbell said the school district has been conservative in its spending in recent years in part because of anticipated rising PERS costs.

The superintendent said she is hopeful that Imbler will not have to draw as much from its reserve fund as the budget is proposing. She said that the budget was built on the assumption that the Legislature will provide schools with a budget of $8.97 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, and there is a possibility that school districts will receive more than this.

The Imbler School District’s fiscal picture could also be boosted by the passage of House Bill 3075. This bill would repeal Senate Bill 1067, which the Legislature passed in 2017 and is set to take effect in October.

See complete story in Friday's Observer