The Hermiston School District held its first budget meeting Monday and discussed some proposed changes, but no layoffs or loss of instructional hours despite a likely reduction in state funding.
Superintendent Fred Maiocco presented the budget message to the board and budget committee, which includes seven community members.
Some of the highlights he mentioned for the next year’s budget included keeping current staffing levels, continuing to provide professional development and training, and providing additional support for students that need more help. The district will maintain the full school calendar, without taking away any instructional days.
“These are difficult times for public schools,” Maiocco said. “But we have done our best.”
The district’s balanced budget proposal totals $164,478,089 for the 2017-2018 school year. That number is an $82.9 million increase over the past year. The most significant change to the budget is the allotment of $72 million for potential bond expenditures, if the bond measure passes on May 16.
The general fund, budgeted at $61.5 million, an increase of nine percent over the past year.
“It’s easier to take it away (if the bond doesn’t pass) than to not have it, so we’ve included it for now,” Maiocco said.
Maiocco acknowledged that it will be a difficult budget year, with a statewide schools deficit of $1.6 billion. Challenges, he said, will include attracting and retaining qualified staff, more crowded classrooms, an increase in PERS costs and reductions to federal grant funding.
Director of Business Services Katie Saul went over the district’s various funding sources, and noted some that will not arrive this year.
Among the funds that will be discontinued are the Farm to School Grant, which was used to fund farm-fresh produce at the schools, as well as the College and Career Readiness fund, which was designated to help with visits to local colleges and universities. Other things that were discontinued were the Alternative Education Innovative Learning Center (ILC), which was absorbed into Hermiston High School earlier this school year.
Saul also noted some new funds that were added to next year’s budget.
Measure 98, which allots $800 for each high schooler in the state, will be included in the budget, although Saul said the district does not know if it will receive the full amount for each student due to the statewide budget shortfall.
Saul also went over the district’s expected revenue and expenditures. The bulk of the school’s revenue is made up of the state school fund and property taxes.
Some of the district’s budgeted expenditures will include the food service fund, which receives both federal and state money, and the textbook reserve fund. The district will also budget for a planning principal and secretary for a new school on Theater Lane.
In the event that the bond passes, the district will hire staff to oversee the construction and begin planning operations for that school.
There will be another budget committee meeting on Monday, May 15. A public budget hearing will be held Monday, June 12, after which the school board may adopt the budget.