Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon – The Board of Directors met in a work session on Monday, February 23, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in the Helman School Library. Present were:
Mat Marr ) Chair
Ruth Alexander )
Keith Massie ) Directors
Heidi Parker )
Amy Patton )
Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent
Jill Turner, Business Manager
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chair Marr.
II. Roll Check
All members were present.
III. Status Report on 2008-09 Budget Shortfall
Juli Di Chiro reviewed the financial shortfall for the 2008-09 school year. She reported on the November revenue forecast resulting in a 5-day reduction of workdays for teachers and administrators and a 4-day reduction of workdays for classified staff. Spring Break was extended by one week. K-8 students will miss one day of school; 9-12 students will miss two days of school resulting in missing each class once. Spring parent-teacher-student conference days were cancelled.
Juli Di Chiro explained that the revenue situation in the state continues to worsen and further reductions may be necessary for this year. Additional layoffs would not be feasible as the timelines are impossible to meet this late in the year. Reducing additional days would be the only option. The legislature should provide a response to the budget shortfall by February 28. If, as anticipated, the impact on K-12 is approximately $50 million, it is believed that the Ashland School District could complete the year utilizing these funds and federal stimulus dollars that are expected to arrive in the district before July 1.
IV. Overview of Scenarios for 2009-10 Budget Development
Jill Turner reviewed the financial scenarios for the 2009-10 school year.
V. Review of Initial $3.5 Million Budget Reduction
Juli Di Chiro reviewed the current proposed reductions totaling nearly $3.5 million. This reflects a total of 44.96 full-time equivalency staff reductions. Some assumptions have been made that are still under negotiations with staff.
Ten percent reductions were made in the general fund and athletics across the board. The Budget Committee and Board have the option to direct administration to do cuts differently. The reduction will result in increased class sizes. The elementary strings program has been eliminated. Other programs have been reduced, but still exist.
This reduction may not be enough for the 2009-10 school year. The Legislative response to the financial crisis is unknown at this time and we do not yet have clear information on funding for next year. The next economic forecast will be out the end of April. The school district is required to approve a budget by June 30, and will therefore, make some assumptions and create a budget for next year.
Bond funds are only spent on construction related costs. We anticipate a balance of between $2 and $2.5 million at the conclusion of construction. That would allow us to do additional programs. We cannot transfer that money to the general fund. We will realize energy savings due to lighting replacement and new buildings that will require less maintenance.
VI. Public Input
Questions and comments were presented as follows.
Make every effort to restore the cuts to librarians. Librarians can’t be easily replaced. They are active in the lives of students. Would rather have higher class sizes than have the librarians cut.
How will class sizes be affected next year? Answer: That information is not available yet. One classroom teacher has been reduced at each elementary school. The team structure at Ashland Middle School is, as yet, unknown. Ashland High School will have higher class sizes, but that will vary by department. The District will provide class size projections as soon as possible.
Is there a consistent cut to John Muir School and Willow Wind? Answer: At John Muir, more students will be enrolled and class size will increase. If the funding to Willow Wind is reduced, the revenue is also reduced. Willow Wind brings in more revenue than it costs.
Alternative programs cost a lot of money and serve a small number of students.
To what extent does the budget committee have input on who gets laid off? Are all layoffs done to the least experienced staff across the district? Answer: There is a seniority process for layoffs. Licensure, experience across the district, and date of hire determine who is laid off.
Create part-time principals and part-time teachers. Less bureaucracy would make teachers lives easier and make them want to stay in teaching positions.
Ask students what they want to be cut. Answer: The number of students taking classes determines some of the cuts.
Look at buildings we have and look at selling one of them to replenish the district’s reserves.
Is the district required to maintain bus services? Answer: The school must provide transportation for students living one mile from the school. Seventy percent of transportation expense is reimbursed by the state.
Can the Ashland Schools Foundation help? Answer: Most people are donating to the Ashland Schools Foundation at a reduced level. Currently the Foundation pays $183,000 for teachers.
VII. Board and Budget Committee Questions and Comments
Southern Oregon University is interested in the Lincoln facility. Perhaps that should be considered.
The total rent income on Briscoe and Lincoln is $220,000 per year.
Plan for an additional $1.7 million of reductions in addition to the $3.5 million already done. Try to complete this work so that affected staff will be notified in a timely manner and still have a chance to make adjustments.
A high school librarian is really important. What about job sharing? Answer: There is a provision in the teaching contract for job sharing. At this point, the District is asking staff not to take a cost of living increase. Teachers and classified staff have been incredible to work with during this difficult time. They are thinking about what’s best for kids.
More information will be available on Friday, February 27 about this year’s budget. We need to plan for the worse case because we won’t know anything concrete until June. Can we cut additional days this year? We need more information regarding class sizes. We need information about the number of students currently taking Auto classes and how many fewer that might be.
Future budget meetings have been scheduled for April 27, May 6, and May 20. It was suggested that the budget calendar be altered to have the budget approved in late June.
Consider modifying the local option rate.
Ask the community to pay additional taxes to avoid layoffs of teachers and maintain the school year.
Consider disposing of Lincoln School. Briscoe is a revenue generator right now. If the district is selling properties, consider looking at all available properties. The high school property is small, and Lincoln could be made a part of that.
It is a bad idea to sell Lincoln property. Briscoe is too small and located in the wrong place. There is a large chunk of Willow Wind that is not utilized.
Produce an operating income on an ongoing basis, not capital asset. Don’t use capital assets to solve our operating problems. It is a 5 – 10 year issue.
What are the class size impacts of the $3.5 million proposal and any additional cuts?
What are the programmatic impacts of these reductions?
The legislature will not be properly funding K-12 education in the future. We need to consider program cuts since we cannot afford the programs we have. We need to consider what can be moved outside of the school day. Utilize communication education programs in our facilities. It is a perfect time to implement some of the solutions that are coming from the AHS Redesign.
Use volunteers but be careful they don’t replace staff. Communications with the whole community is important. Look at all of the capital assets of the school; they are community assets as well.
Consider revenue enhancements – administrative services to other districts, online classes.
Can the ESD deliver some programs via online learning?
Juli Di Chiro explained that implementation strategies from the AHS Redesign will not be finalized for this budget cycle. Phase Two for a $1.5 to $1.7 million reduction will be developed in the next month.
Consensus decisions were made as follows: Review an additional $1.5 - $1.7 million reduction; finalize this year’s reductions by March 13; look at long-term solutions.
Specific questions from the Board and Budget Committee members were:
What are the class size impacts of the $3.5 million proposal and any additional cuts.
What are the programmatic impacts of these reductions?
The School Board and Budget Committee will meet on March 9 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.
Community members asked that the district utilize the website for communication. They further asked that the minutes of this meeting be posted on the website as quickly as possible.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:37 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Jeanne Peterson, Administrative Assistant