LO School District draws closer to even
Foundation campaign key to preventing more staffing cuts
Lake Oswego School District officials may not have to cut $1 million from the budget next fiscal year as previously planned, and there may not be layoffs depending on a key variable.
Superintendent Bill Korach said an increase in state funding and a rise in local option levy revenue have helped, and now, the crucial factor is what funding comes in from the Lake Oswego Schools Foundations annual campaign.
Korach said the campaign is going well, but district administrators are not at this stage ready to make a recommendation to the board for next year about staffing.
The districts projected total revenue for 2014-15 includes an estimated $1.5 million from the foundation, and more than that could open the door to adding staffing, Finance Director Stuart Ketzler said.
Its still a specific place and time projection that will evolve as more information becomes available and as the board begins to make certain choices relative to program alignment and grade level configuration, Ketzler said.
The board is discussing splitting some blended classes by grade level next year such as potentially breaking up third grade-fourth grade classes and having the students move to single-grade classes something that would require a larger teaching staff, Ketzler said.
The foundation campaign goal is $2 million, and $872,000 had been pledged or raised as of Wednesday morning. So far, 17 percent of local families have participated in the campaign, well below the 80 percent goal. Foundation board members were planning to submit more pledge forms Wednesday night, and the foundations phon-a-thon commences April 22, said Sara Patinkin, foundation executive director. During the foundations last campaign, the nonprofit organization raised $1.7 million, supporting the salaries of 20 teachers.
I think the foundation is always crucial to the financial health of the district, Patinkin said. We provide the district with the funds to hire the teaching staff they need, keeping class sizes small and a great set of electives and, of course, core classes.
The recession saddled many school districts with a deficit, and LOSDs deficit gradually ate away at the districts cash reserve, which has been used to help keep the budget balanced. Schools have been closed, jobs cut and furloughs instituted to save dollars.
The latest school district budget projections include the first formal estimate of the districts share of state revenue, which will be nearly $52.7 million in 2014-15, about $700,000 more than Ketzler calculated in his conservative estimate that he presented to the board last month.
A predicted 4 percent increase to real property values in 2014-15 could lead to a projected $6.28 million in local option revenue, higher than this years estimate of $5.9 million, Ketzler said.
Local option revenue could be more or less, he said. This is just a projection, and my general sense is that Im being relatively conservative, so I hope it could be more.
Ketzlers new projected budget, which he laid out before the board Monday, indicated the district still will need to tap cash reserves with a revenue-expenditure gap of $75,000 forecast for 2014-15 and an estimated shortfall of $220,000 coming for 2015-16.
To compare, the shortfall in 2013-14 is about $878,000.
Board member Sarah Howell is excited about the district no longer needing to cut $1 million and seeing the deficit diminish.
The gap is almost bridged, said Howell.
Depending on revenues such as foundation dollars, there may be no gap at all, but all isnt as it was before the district trimmed back on costs such as staffing.
Were still underfunded, said John Wendland, a board member. Theres things that we have cut that we need to restore.
The official budget for 2014-15 is not complete until the board approves it in June after several weeks of public meetings, and the 2015-16 budget process is a year away. Plus, this fiscal year is not over until June 30.
In other business at the Monday meeting: