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Board OKs 2014-15 budget


For first time in six years, Forest Grove has 'money to spend'

With no resistance and little fanfare, the Forest Grove School Board adopted a $59.2 budget Monday night that will restore teaching positions, reduce class sizes and bolster counseling services in the district.

“On July 1 we’ll have money to spend,” Director of Business Mike Schofield told board members after they unanimously approved five resolutions to cement the district’s operating budget for the 2014-15 school year.

The green-light vote caps six months of work and public meetings by the school board, budget committee and district administrators.

“This new budget means we have more money than we’ve had for six years, no more split classes and new teachers,” said board member Kate Grandusky. “I support the way the administration is going.”

Prior to the regular board meeting, the public had a final opportunity to comment on the new budget in a public hearing. The only person to address the board was fourth-grade teacher and president of the Forest Grove Education Association Jeff Matsumoto, who thanked the board for reducing class sizes. He also asked the board to increase the weekly number of PE classes.

By approving the five resolutions, the board accomplished the following:

n Adopted the total amount of the budget;

n Made appropriations to 15 budget categories, such as food service, the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) fund, instruction and debt service;

n Levied taxes at the rate of $4.9142 per $1,000 of assessed property value; and

n Transferred $375,000 in Gain Share funds into the general fund budget and $375,000 to Support Services.

The new budget is a $5.1 million increase over the 2013-14 budget and includes the following modifications:

n Four additional K-4 teachers, lowering the average elementary class size to 26.5.

n Five additional teachers at Forest Grove High School.

n Additional counselors at every level.

n A district literacy coordinator.

n Digital intervention tools at every grade level to provide immediate and focused instruction on individual students’ needs.

n Replaces old and dying computers across the district

n Additional technology devices at the high school.

n Additional technology staff to help students and staff with technical support for the more than 3,000 devices currently in use in the district .

n A new K-12 online school.