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A tough week for schools

In what has become a sobering spring ritual, Hillsboro School District Superintendent Mike Scott Tuesday evening outlined $8.57 million in potential budget reductions for the 2013-14 school year, including cutting 50 teaching positions.

The district, which has seen $61.3 million in cuts over the last five years, faces more belt-tightening next school year.

Fifty teaching positions are among those potential cuts. Twelve of those positions, Scott said, are “targeted” or “specialized” positions, not general classroom teachers.

“We are not ready to be overly specific,” Scott told the budget committee. “This allows us to start having conversations with staff members.”

The additional 38 teaching position cuts would come from increasing the current staffing ratio of 30.5 students per teacher to 31.1 students.

Cutting 50 teachers would save the district $4.1 million.

In past years, Scott said, staff reductions were accomplished through attrition.

“Not this year,” Scott said. “This year we are likely going to be looking at layoffs.”

Other proposals on the list of reductions include cutting five days from the school calendar — the same number of furlough days as this year — saving $2.3 million. Six classified staff reductions would save the district $332,000.

The remainder of the proposed reductions include making 5 percent cuts to everything from the substitute teacher budget and extended-contract employees to stipends and individual school discretionary budgets — the money that pays for paper, postage and other supplies.

A 5 percent reduction at the district (administrative) level would save an additional $1.4 million.

The numbers laid out Tuesday, Scott cautioned, are not set in stone but are based on a likely scenario of the state Legislature approving a proposed $6.55 billion in school funding for the 2013-15 biennium, plus another $200 million in PERS funding reform.

The five furlough days must be bargained with the teachers’ and classified staff’s unions.

Board member Wayne Clift expressed concern about the future of district funding beyond next year. Although the proposal does not use any of the district’s reserve funds, those funds have dwindled over the last five years to $16.5 million.

“I’d like to see how we’re preparing for future years, not just surviving this year,” he said.

Moving forward, school principals will discuss the budget proposal with staff, parents and community members by May 8.



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