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Lake Oswego School District could see a revenue increase

A jump in student enrollment in Lake Oswego School District’s junior high and high schools could lead to a significant rise in state government aid this winter.

A head count on Monday indicated a 140-student increase in enrollment, although the final count on which funding is based will not be available for months. Moving from 6,782 students on Oct. 1, 2012, to 6,922 students on Monday could boost revenue for the general fund and prevent further staff cuts to remedy a budget that’s been shrinking for the past few years. At least two or three new teachers already have been hired in response to the unexpected influx of students.

The enrollment hike could mean an additional $900,000 for the school district, although that number and whether the district will see more revenue at all are still uncertain.

The complex State School Fund formula divvies out dollars to school districts based on enrollment, Finance Director Stuart Ketzler said. The Lake Oswego School District could start seeing a bump in state revenue in December or January if numbers stay fairly steady. Other factors also influence revenue.

“It is too early to determine how much additional revenue our increased enrollment might bring for this fiscal year,” Ketzler said. “If there is an increase in headcounts on a statewide basis, the revenue increase for LOSD would be reduced.”

The statewide allocation is a fixed amount that all K-12 school districts share, more than $6.5 billion.

The total amount per student, including local funds, was about $6,670 per student in 2012-13 and is estimated at $7,070 per student for 2013-14, Ketzler said.

The district gets half as much for kindergartners as it does for other students, even if the kindergartners are full time.

On Oct. 1, district staff will do one of four official counts that influence the state dollar allocation. The final data will be released in June, and the school later on will settle up its final allocation from the state, Ketzler said.

State funding is 70 percent of the school district’s resources. Employees’ salaries constitute about 85 percent of the general fund.

Enrollment affects the number of full-time-equivalent teachers who need to be hired in order to keep within the appropriate student-to-teacher ratio, an issue the school board discussed at its meeting this week.

“We are trying not to add FTE that we don’t need to add,” Superintendent Bill Korach said.

The district closed three elementary schools in the last two years, and this year it lost 10 teaching positions, although the district has since recalled the three teachers laid off, and the other positions were eliminated through vacancies. The district increased student-to-teacher ratios by one more student per class in all grade levels.

However the numbers shake out, for now, students are occupying a lot of desks.

“Do we have capacity on both sides of the lake?” said Patti Zebrowski, school board chairwoman.

Director of Elementary Education Jonnie Shobaki replied: “We do have some classrooms that are not being utilized.”

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