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Budget cuts unlikely in TTSD next year

The Tigard-Tualatin School District likely won’t have to make drastic cuts to its budget next school year, but if you were expecting to see smiles on the faces of school board members this week, think again.

This week the Oregon Legislature approved a state budget for K-12 education, despite protests from Tigard-Tualatin and other districts that it was too early — and too small — for the districts to fund programs effectively.

BrownUnder the proposed budget, Tigard-Tualatin Superintendent Ernie Brown said that the district would have likely faced a deficit of about $700,000 next year had it not been for the voter-approved local option levy and other sources that made up the difference.

“We are very fortunate with our local option and some of the savings that we have been able to realize in other parts of the operation to have some additional funding be part of the larger budget,” he said. “Other districts are not going to be in that position.”

School Board member Maureen Wolf said that the news is better than some had feared.

“It’s disappointing that we are not proposing any kind of expansion, but at least we are not making dramatic cuts,” she said. “We know what our baseline is, and I don’t see us having to do the types of cuts that we have had to do in the past.”

Last month, Brown told school board members that the district might have to make cuts if the proposed state budget went through.

“It’s a rollback for us,” Brown told school board members last month. “If what is currently being proposed ends up what actually happens, we will need to circle back and look at all those reinvestments we made last year and make hard decisions about if we can continue that.”

Brown told school board leaders this week that Tigard-Tualatin is one of the lucky few districts with sufficient funding in place to keep next year’s budget on par with this year.

“What’s coming out of Salem, with the revenue where it sits now, is not where it needs to be,” Brown said. “We need to continue to have conversations with our decision makers to inform them of our situation.”

But being forced to supplement the budget just to break even isn’t the way districts should have to operate, given the state’s recent economic growth, Brown said.

District officials have also called into question the state’s assertion that the budget would pay for full-day kindergarten classes in classrooms across the state.

“The proposed revenue is not adequate to fund the current service level and full day kindergarten,” Brown said.

The district plans to hold a series of community listening sessions about the budget in late April, including a session held in Spanish.

The district’s budget committee will meet in May to decide the budget for the 2015-16 school year.

By Geoff Pursinger
email: gpursinger@commnewspapers.com
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