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Dropping enrollment, rising PERS costs to challenge panel in New Year

Members of the Forest Grove School Board, who also sit on the district's budget committee, have a busy New Year ahead of them.

From January, when central office administrators from the superintendent on down begin developing the 2013-14 budget, to June, when it must adopt a balanced budget for the coming academic year, the board will be focused on figures.

Business Manager Mike Schofield was due to present the upcoming budget calendar to board members last night, Tuesday, when the panel met in a session rescheduled from Monday, its regular meeting night, due to the Veterans Day holiday.

First up on the calendar: the appointment of three new budget committee members to fill vacancies left by the resignations of Angela Arena and Jonathan Kipp and the expiration of committee mainstay Fred Sherrill's term last June 30.

In the past the board has also appointed an alternate to the committee to serve a one-year term, said Schofield. "This practice has served us well in the past," he noted.

Public advertising for the positions has already occurred and applications will be accepted through Nov. 30. Appointments are scheduled to be made by the board on Dec. 10.

Funding forecasts

Once the new budget committee members are in place, the group can get to work. On March 11, 2013, they'll review K-12 funding forecasts from the state and review a synopsis of the district's 2013-14 general fund budget.

Schofield calls that meeting — set for 5:30 p.m. at the district office, 1728 Main St. — "Budget 101."

On Oct. 8, Schofield let board members know that a sharp enrollment drop this year "will be a factor" in 2013-14, because a one-year reprieve from declining per-pupil revenues from the state will have expired by then.

And, Schofield warned, a "significant rise" in Public Employee Retirement System rates set for the 2013-15 biennium — estimated to increase $1.6 million each year for the local district — is on the horizon.

Calendar dates

While they're working through what it means to be faced with dropping revenues and increased operating costs, budget committee members will be marking several dates on their 2013 calendars in red. The pertinent dates include:

n District office and building administrators are due to submit their budget proposals by March 15.

n A financial update, including new revenue and expense estimates and discussion, is planned for April 8.

n On May 9, 2013, Superintendent Yvonne Curtis will deliver her budget message to the public at 6 p.m.

n The board will adopt a finalized budget on June 10, 2013 and submit it to the Oregon Department of Education in Salem.

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