Central Point School District #6

2017-18 Budget Message

After a one year reprieve from using cash carry-over to close the gap between revenue and expenditures, Central Point School District 6 returns to a budget that will require access to cash reserves to avoid cuts and ensure that we staff our schools to meet the needs of a growing enrollment. While the focus of our annual budget message is our school district, this year it is also important to consider why the state school fund is lacking while the Oregon economy is booming.

Oregonians see signs of a robust state economy everywhere they look – there are “help wanted” signs in the window of local businesses. Further, unemployment rates are the lowest on Oregon record, income is increasing and the housing market is growing at a rapid pace. Many of us find it hard to believe that our schools could be underfunded during this economic boom. However, the state school fund is predicted to fall significantly short of what will be required to maintain services and programs for most school districts in Oregon.

An April 9th editorial in the Oregonian summarizes the state budget issue – Oregon’s economic growth and resulting state revenue simply cannot keep up with its spending. The expansion of Medicaid and other health insurance increases, the unfunded PERS liability and the $357 million dollars in unfunded ballot measures approved by voters in November, are each a major contributor to a growing gap between Oregon’s revenue and spending.

Revenue

The 2017-18 school year is the first year in the biennium and revenue from the state school fund is currently a moving target; we may not have a final figure until July (after statute requires an approved budget for the district). So far, it looks as though getting to that number will be a wild ride. The governor’s budget put the state school fund at about $8 billion, with the caveat that the state must have a plan to increase revenue. The co-chairs’ of Oregon’s legislative joint Ways and Means produced an “existing resources budget framework” that put the state school fund at around $7.8 billion. For some perspective on those numbers, COSA (the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators) and OSBA (Oregon School Boards’ Association) have identified $8.0 billion as “cuts” level funding for most districts and $8.4 billion as “the minimum” required to maintain programs and services.

However, the Central Point School District is in the fortunate minority – the combination of a strong beginning fund balance and steady enrollment increases will allow the district to avoid cuts and provide the staffing required to meet growing enrollment. We’ve built the 2017-18 budget on an anticipated $7.9 billion-dollar state school fund (our conservative best guess).

Our projected beginning fund balance is about $5 million and our projected general fund revenue is at $48.2 million (this includes beginning fund balance, state school fund and property tax revenue). Our general fund revenue projection is also based on a slight enrollment increase.

Expenditures

The proposed 2017-18 budget will maintain services and programs and provide the additional staff required to meet enrollment increases.

Additions to the budget include 32.5 FTE (both classified and certified). While that number is astounding, the funding for most of these positions will be off-set by decreased program costs through SOESD. New positions funded to address program, services and enrollment include: 6.0 FTE at elementary, and 6.0 FTE at middle school and 2.0 FTE in additional programs and services. Further, we’ve budgeted for new classroom set-ups, a professional development fund, a technology investment fund and funding for additional facilities.

While we’re fortunate to avoid cuts, it’s important to note that many of the programs and services on the chopping block in other districts, are programs and services that District 6 was not able to “add back” following the last recession. On average, revenue for District 6 remains lower than other local districts (the combination of general fund revenue and federal fund revenue). Further, we’re committed to attracting and retaining the best possible staff by offering competitive compensation packages that are above average. Because of fewer dollars in revenue and more dollars in expenditures, our class sizes are higher than average and programs such as elementary music and some activities and athletics are not yet at pre-recession levels.

Challenges and Opportunities

Many of the challenges and opportunities identified last year, remain this year.

  • Special Education costs continue to increase. We are assessing the value of services offered through SOESD and where it is both cost effective and best for our students, we will transition to in-district services. For the 2017-18 school year, the STEPS program (which is already housed in district and is comprised of primarily District 6 students) and some specialists (autism and psychologists) will transition from SOESD programs to District 6 programs.
  • Class sizes continue to be above average for both Oregon and the region. However, open enrollment has allowed for additional teachers at three elementary schools and both middle schools – we expect class sizes to decrease in 2017-18.
  • Our facilities continue to be a challenge: heating and cooling issues; school safety; universal design for student access; classroom space in our in-town schools; and many other issues that emerge from well-worn and well-loved facilities. This year, we’ll not only invest in tackling some deferred maintenance, but will use a $1.5 million-dollar grant for seismic retro-fit at Mae Richardson Elementary. Finally, the district is considering how to best utilize our existing facilities, and add additional classroom space where needed.

District 6 remains committed to our communities. Our goal in the 2017-18 budget is to provide the best possible educational experience for our students while remaining good stewards of our public funds. Our strategy includes identifying efficiencies and making investments in the programs and services with the most significant impact on our kids.

Impact

District 6 is dedicated to helping each student reach his or her full potential. The outcomes identified in our strategic planning process in 2014 remain our focus: Core Knowledge; Creative Problem Solving; Collaboration; Transition; Communication and Character. Our 2017-18 budget reflects the programs and talented staff that we know will make a difference in every child’s success.

Samantha Steele

Superintendent