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Hillsboro schools restore lost days

For the first time in five years, Hillsboro students will be able to anticipate a full school year — with no budget reduction days — when they walk in the doors Sept. 2.Photo Credit: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - A full school year awaits students in the Hillsboro School District in 2014-15.

Hillsboro School District board members signaled their intent last week to use Gain Share funds to restore the one remaining budget reduction day to the 2014-15 school calendar, making the coming school year the first full school year since 2009-10.

Additionally, the board plans to earmark Gain Share funds for additional staffing needs that may arise this fall.

The school district was expecting $1.2 million in Gain Share funds from the city of Hillsboro and Washington County in 2014-15. That money, along with a portion of additional State School Fund dollars, was used to restore four instructional days to the 2014-15 school year.

On July 18, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey and Washington County Board of Commissioners Chairman Andy Duyck announced $6 million more in Gain Share funds than originally expected. Of that, $3 million was set aside for Washington County schools.

The Hillsboro School District’s share of that extra $3 million totals $728,000, bringing the district’s total Gain Share funds to $1.9 million for 2014-15.

At a meeting Aug. 14, board members considered a proposal to spend $466,000 to restore the final budget reduction day and push the remaining $262,000 to cover licensed and classified staffing needs that may arise as students begin to filter in to schools.

Enrollment projections are based on trend data, new construction and enrollment at the end of the previous school year, explained district spokeswoman Beth Graser, but the numbers fluctuate through September.

Graser said adding additional staff would likely be handled as part-time and temporary positions. Because the Gain Share money is not guaranteed every year, Graser said the district would “be careful about adding things that become roll-up costs” — costs that must be figured into the following year’s budget.

“I am proud of our district’s commitment to holding a full school year and doing what’s best for students and staff,” said Kim Strelchun, who serves as chair of the school board. “And I am so appreciative of the city and county for giving us this opportunity.”

Shirley Araiza, a rising senior at Glencoe High School, said she is pleased to hear the board intends to fund a full school year.

“I’m really happy (the board used the funds) to give the benefit back to students,” Araiza said. “It really does make all the difference ensuring a quality learning experience.”

The board is expected to appropriate the funds and adopt a new calendar for the 2014-15 school year at its Sept. 23 meeting.

Graser said the restored instructional day will likely be added to the end of the school year — on Friday, June 12, 2015.

“I would encourage people not to focus on which day gets added back,” Graser said. “Look at it in terms of the totality of a full school year,” which, she said, gives teachers more flexibility with curriculum and ensures the district meets the state’s requirements for educational hours.

Gain Share is money local taxing authorities receive back from the state as a result of tax abatement agreements with large employers such as Intel and Genentech. Through Strategic Investment Program (SIP) agreements, large employers pay less money in taxes in exchange for their investments in equipment and infrastructure.

The income tax collected from employees who are new to those companies as a result of the investment is held separately by the state, with half of the taxes kept at the state level and half returned to local taxing authorities.

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