Lincoln County Schools: Property taxes are up, but federal (anti-recession) aid is gone. So now there is talk of a property tax override eventually to keep schools from slipping.
From Superintendant of Schools Tom Rinearson
This is probably the most frustrating budget I have proposed to the Budget Committee since I have been the Superintendent of Lincoln County School District. I think this frustration is because I feel we are sooo close to turning a lot of corners that will make us an even better place for students… I can see it; I can taste it.
As the state legislature continues to underfund K-12 education and the federal government’s attempt to help us out through the use of ARRA funds has come to an end, we are still in a position where we need to reduce. As you know, the District has, for over a decade, been reducing services to students, increasing class size and reducing the number of days students and employees work. When an organization needs to reduce because there is not enough revenue to cover programs and services, there are really only three choices; 1) reduce the number of employees; 2) reduce the number of days employees work; and 3) spend cash. This proposed budget does all three. We have run out of the ARRA (federal anti-recession money) money, thus causing us to reduce employees in some of our federal programs. We can no longer increase class size, so I am proposing the Board close schools for 10 days and spend $1.2 million in cash/reserves. Fortunately we had set aside some money to help with the increased cost of the contractual retirement incentive.
There are some positive notes however. Our student population is beginning to stabilize after more than 15 years of decline. With the new economic development happening in the county the future looks brighter for family wage jobs. We have wonderful partnerships in our communities and with the Chalkboard project. These partnerships have the potential of bringing millions of dollars into the school District over the next 1-4 years. We also have perfect timing with the number of teachers retiring and most other districts in a layoff mode… we are replacing our good teachers with the cream of the crop that is out there… which is exciting. We need to keep a steady focus and get through what I hope to be the final episode of dwindling resources.
The 2012-13 budget for Lincoln County School District has been prepared in accordance with the laws of the State of Oregon and the Program Budget Manual designed by the Oregon Department of Education. For your convenience and
understanding we have included explanations in the proposed budget.
I have attached comparisons, by school that reflect 2011-12 programming vs. 2012-2013 programming.
Resources, Expenditures, and Transfers:
The proposed budget has resources in the General 100 Fund of $44,668,673. This is compared to $44,396,795 for the 2011-12 budget, an increase of $271,878, including the influx of reserve funds.
Budget year 2013-2014:
Our overall employee costs (all employees, not just teachers) are still rising at a higher rate than our revenue, however we have worked with our employee groups to minimize this impact. While the revenue projections for the next biennium show around a 14% increase for K-12, I am skeptical based on past history. Historically the picture always looks brighter at this point in the legislative process, however, it seems to dwindle away as we get closer to the actual legislative budgeting process. Furthermore, the impact of our PERS bond as well as the increased PERS rates will add pressure to the expenditure side of the budget, especially with the poor returns PERS made in 2011.
The unfunded liabilities of the early retirement components of employee contracts and the sick leave banks will also continue to stress the system. Given this reality and barring major changes in revenue or expenditure practices, we will probably continue to see a depletion of services we can deliver to students and our communities… These are the biggest long range impacts facing the LCSD Board. We will need to do one or more of three things: raise more revenue, reduce costs or a combination of both. It may be time in the near future to entertain the thought of a Local Option (trying to get the voters to approve a property tax override-increase to fund public schools).
Tom Rinearson, Budget Officer