The Press Newspaper
The Oregon City School Board at a meeting Nov. 29 eliminated seven teaching positions and closed Wynn Elementary School to cut $2.8 million from the budget.
The most recent round of cuts was made in the wake of the defeat of a 5.9-mill emergency levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The district faces a $2 million deficit for the 2011-2012 school year. The levy would have brought in $3.4 million annually.
In the last three years, the school board has cut $8 million from the operating budget.
The district issued a position statement last summer that outlined plans to reduce the operating budget further by $2 million for the 2011-2012 school year if the levy did not pass. Those cuts included cutting 20 additional teaching and staff positions, eliminating the Career & Tech program, reducing kindergarten from all day every day to all day every other day, increasing athletic participation fees, reducing cleaning services to buildings, eliminating or significantly reducing bus service for all high school students, and implementing a process to close an elementary school and/or reconfigure the district.
“We as a board understand there’s been a lot of controversy and rumor that have been percolating in the last couple of weeks in regards to the budget,” Board President Diane Karoly said before the cuts were announced. “We are pleased with the progress …in securing the budget both for now and in the near future but realize we have a long way to go. Just as the board develops policy as a ready reference to make good decisions about issues, the board also develops a budget that presses the fiscal limits for what can and cannot be done.”
The board held an executive session workshop regarding personnel earlier in the day, said Karoly.
Among the cuts: closing Wynn Elementary School, and the elimination of high school busing effective January 1.
Other cuts include cleaning schools every other day; increasing athletic participation fees; reducing Career & Tech program offerings of dental and culinary and restructuring cosmetology and automotive.
There will also be administrative cuts totaling $410,572.
The district will be providing all day every day kindergarten next year.
“We will not need to reduce our physical education or music teacher at the closing of Wynn Elementary. They will stay on staff and will handle the three elementary schools,” said Karoly.
The district will save $2.8 million as a result of the cuts.
The district’s finance officer Jane Fruth said she received an e-mail from Lucas County stating the district will be losing approximately $337,000 worth of real estate tax revenue as the result of tax appeals.
“We’ve had a number of reductions in valuations, so we will have to be refunding $337,000,” she said.
She also said revenue projections she made in May for 2010 were off by 1 percent.
“Revenue projections were actually low in the forecast. I had lower projections of money coming in. We received about $400,000 more than originally anticipated,” she said.
Insurance premiums were also lower than projected due to negotiated concessions, she added.
For the 2011 fiscal year, Fruth said she increased real estate estimates by $459,000.
“Because of that, I increased Homestead rollback by $150,000,” she said.
She also said the possible increase in open enrollment in the district could bring in another $224,000.
“Changes in the forecast are simply that,” said Fruth. “There’s a large number of large ticket items that change from May moving forward. It’s not new money, just an estimate. A forecast is simply an evaluation of the trends facing the district. It doesn’t change what we’re facing.”
“The 2010 actual finish to our fiscal year as compared to our forecast has some numbers in it that were surprising to us in a good way,” said Board Member Eric Heintschel, who is also the chairman of the finance committee. “Having our forecast come in conservative is a good thing. If we had gone $2 million the other way, obviously, we would have significant financial concerns.”
The district will lose $3 million in operations in 2012, and $3.3 million in operations in 2013, he said.
“If we don’t correct those losses, this money will be gone in two years. That’s why the board made the decision tonight to make further reductions. We talked about levies. Obviously, a levy is not an option. The community has spoken. We need to become as efficient as we can,” he said.
Mark Anderson, president of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 320, said he was “very upset,” about the cuts because during contract negotiations, the union was told there would be no layoffs for a year.
“I have a very hard time swallowing this,” he said.