Out of My Mind 5

Discussionon school financial picture needs to continue

The news is gloomy all over when it comes to school financesin Washington State. It looks like each school district will be asked to cut asmuch as 30 percent from their budgets. After paying for academic programs andfixed costs, this won’t leave a lot for extracurriculars, according to OrovilleSuperintendent Ernie Bartelson.

This isn’t, however, just something that is happening toOroville, every district from Tonasket to Brewster in Okanogan County is goingto need to find ways to slash their budgets to the bone.

In a way Oroville is a victim of its own success, amini-building boom of vacation properties led to higher assessment in 2009 andthe state stepped in, declared that we no longer poor, and took away our levyequalization funds, effectively cutting a third of a million dollars from ourschool’s operating budget.

Oroville School Superintendent Ernie Bartelson was asked tospeak to the Oroville Booster Club last Monday evening to try and explain whythe school board recently acted to terminate all the coaches’ contracts fornext year. His reasoning, and that of the board’s, was that their legal counselhad advised them to do so in order to “give them a clean slate” until districtsaround the state learn just how little money will be available to them from thestate coffers. Since the board intends to hire some of the coaches, back oneBooster Club Member suggested we should think of them as “suspensions” ratherthan “terminations.”

All school districts in the state are trying to figure outhow they will pay for next year’s budget. And because of this, all the schoolsin the 2B and 1A athletic leagues find themselves in the same boat – looking tocut expenses and it looks like athletics are not off the table for anyone. Theregional superintendents and athletic directors have been meeting for weekstrying to figure out how they can retain some extracurriculars. It sounds likethey are looking for consistency – some sports will be dropped for as long astwo years while the state and school districts try to regroup. The finaldecision on what sports stay and which are dropped temporarily, will probablyhave more to do with what everyone in the league is doing, than what the schoolboard of each individual school feels should be dropped or retained.

This conversation is not over, the board will be asking forthe community’ss help in trying to figure out how to proceed and next yearthey’ll be asking for our vote on a larger M&O levy – twice the money athalf the price – one good thing that came out of the new evaluation.

Supt. Bartelson will also be at a special evening OrovilleChamber of Commerce meeting scheduled for tonight, Thursday, May 14 at 6 p.m.at Yo Yo’s Restaurant. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.