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School budget looks brighter next year

There were a fair number of happy faces around the table during a Hillsboro School District Budget Committee work session recently as Superintendent Mike Scott presented a preliminary look at the district’s financial position going into the 2014-15 school year.

“We are not in reduction mode,” Scott told members of the Budget Committee, a group of seven appointed citizens plus the seven elected school board members tasked with coming up with a budget for the district each year.

Preliminary estimates indicate the district will have higher revenues than expenses next school year, the first year that’s happened since 2008.

Scott’s report indicated projected expenses of $184 million and revenues of about $187.5 million. Several factors contributed to the expected increase in revenues, Scott said, including the Oregon Legislature’s “grand bargain” last fall, adding about $200 million to state education coffers — an additional $3.5 million for Hillsboro schools.

In addition, there are fewer variables going into next school year. The district is not bargaining with the teachers’ or classified unions, and the PERS rate is a known.

“There aren’t a lot of variables in play,” Scott said.

Scott and the committee tossed around ideas on where to spend the extra revenue, including bringing back laid-off teachers, reducing class sizes and updating aging computers at schools.

“I would caution the budget committee and board that ... pressures are coming,” Scott said, in reference to expectations from parents, community members, teachers and staff to replace programs and other cuts that have been made over the last five years.

Scott suggested the committee take a close look at how to spend the money in a targeted way, not just “go to the list of reductions.”

The budget committee will hear more specific recommendations from Scott and his staff at an upcoming work session Feb. 25.



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