For the first time in six years, Forest Grove School District students will get a full instructional year.

That and a little more good news greeted members of the district’s budget committee last Thursday night. The 2013-14 budget outlook is slightly brighter than in years past.

Based on the assumption that the Oregon Legislature will fund schools at the $6.55 billion level and come through with $200 million in Public Employees Retirement System reform savings, the district can “begin modest reinvestments in some of the areas where we have had to reduce,” Superintendent Yvonne Curtis said in her message to the budget committee.

As a response to community feedback about class size, district officials added two full-time equivalent teachers back at the K-1 level. In addition, one full-time position has been added back to the elementary library program and counseling services have been added at all levels.

“We put a little bit back into key areas,” said district finance director Mike Schofield, “but we didn’t fill all the holes.”

Two years ago, all elementary school librarians were cut from the budget. Since then, elementary school libraries have been run mostly by volunteers “with some backfilling with other staff in the building,” Schofield said.

“I don’t know exactly what (that full-time equivalent position) will look like,” he said, adding it might be two part-time employees. “The hope is that all students get at least a little bit of library time.” The budget also includes $25,000 to bolster the book collection.

At Neil Armstrong Middle School, $300,000 was allocated to begin a pilot project that will put a digital device in the hands of every student at the school.

The building and grounds maintenace budget was increased due to the additional 80,000 square feet of space added to the high school and 250,000 square feet in fields.

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