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May budget message pivotal date on adopted calendar

District anticipates another tempestuous budget season in spring 2012

With another year of epic cuts likely to befall the Forest Grove district in 2012-13, the school board adopted a budget calendar Monday that sets the most pivotal date, a May 10 budget message, as the process's public relations centerpiece.

Superintendent Yvonne Curtis said she planned to reveal details about any proposed cuts 'much earlier' than her early May budget message, which sets the stage for the district budget committee's most important responsibility: fine-tuning a year-long financial document.

That work allows the board to meet a June 30 deadline for adopting and submitting a balanced budget to the Oregon Department of Education, a task required by state law.

The district drew fire for keeping its budget-slashing plan under wraps until Curtis announced $7.5 million in cuts during a crowded public meeting at Forest Grove High May 5.

Her list included dozens of teacher layoffs, the elimination of elementary school librarians, deep cuts to world languages at FGHS and other reductions that touched off heated debates in the community.

Brad Coffey, a former Cornelius City councilor, told the board he wanted more time between the budget message and approval of the document, set for a week later. 'I urge you to lengthen the distance between those two dates,' he said. 'Until [the budget] is announced, it's all speculation.'

But business manager Mike Schofield argued that maintaining the May 10 date was critical.

'We're going to have lots of conversation before that, but that's the date we'd like to keep,' he said, noting that updated enrollment data and the most current state revenue projections would produce the most accurate budget blueprint.