Oroville School Board hears suggestions for potential budget cuts

OROVILLE – Shay Shaw, business manager for the Oroville School District, went over potential ways to trim next year’s budget in anticipation of deep funding cuts by the state.

Even with the suggested cut backs, which Shaw described as “highly preliminary” at the Monday, April 27 board school board meeting, the district would still be looking at a $178,491 deficit for the next school year. And if Levy Equalization is reduced by 16 percent by the Governor’s budget, the deficit would grow by $15,200 to $193,691.

The state still hasn’t announced exactly how much they will be decreasing funding to the state’s school districts.

“We were told to expect to have precise information from the state on Thursday, but we’ve been told that before,” said Ernie Bartelson, School District Superintendent.

“We face an enormous deficit because of the loss of levy equalization money as well,” Bartelson said. “We have been talking to most of the superintendents in the region about when they will submit their modified education plans… most have yet to submit them.”

Oroville expects the $90,000 it will receive in levy equalization monies, which are given to tax poor school districts, to be it’s last because of the near doubling of the property values within the school district.

Shaw presented her preliminary suggestions about where decreases can be made in next year’s budget. Based on a 520 student enrollment, Oroville expects total revenues of $1,822,148. Shaw outlined making cuts in technology of $40,000; eliminating summer school, $15,000; decreasing maintenance and classroom budgets, $10,000 each; grounds-keeping supplies, $5000; supplement transportation, $25,000 and decreasing curriculum, $150,000. The cuts include the loss of half a secretary and half a custodian, as well as not filling one of the cook’s positions when one of the cooks retires at the end of the year.

This still leaves nearly $180,000 in cuts that will need to be made.

Bartelson asked if the board would like a special meeting on Wednesday, May 6 so that members could take a look at the state budget when it is announced. The board agreed to meet that evening at 5 p.m.

“Hopefully there will be some good numbers to give Shay to start plugging in,” said Bartelson.

Shaw said the district was going to lose some classified people and perhaps some paraprofessionals and the board would have to decide what to do with extracurriculars.

“There will have to be some tough decisions,” she said.

It was suggested that a community committee of about a dozen people be asked to help the board make some of those decisions. Board members agreed to ask for volunteers to serve on the committee.

“If people won’t volunteer I guess we can ask people,” said Board Member Verle Rowton.

The district is obligated to issue teacher contracts by May 1, according to Bartelson. He said there is a more time to make decisions on the classified and parapro contracts.

“There is longer yet to do the extracurriculars,” he said.

The floor was opened up to public comment. Phil Barker asked to revisit the issue of 60 students living within the Oroville School District attending school in Tonasket.

“There may be more because of people attending parochial schools or homeschools, but is that because they were driven out of the system?” asked Barker.

Several students going to Tonasket attend their Alternative School.

“What happened to the Alternative School we had… it used to be in this building?” asked Barker.

Barker also said there seemed to be a lot of grievances filed by the teachers starting about five years ago. He said there were also unhappy students, including his son who enrolled in the Running Start program at WVC partially because of the atmosphere in the school.

“There seems to be a constant bickering between the teachers and management,” said Barker. “That kind of thing ruined several corporations like G.M.”

Barker concluded by saying he would still like to see a budget workshop.

School Board Chairperson Tedi Fletcher said she did not have any comment regarding what Barker had to say. She asked the other board members if they comments and no one did.