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School board approves district budget

Only four school days cut this year after eight were cut last year


The recently approved St. Helens School District Budget will bring back four school days and two teachers.

Not everyone is happy with the budget, approved by the school board June 12 — many teachers and some board members were pushing for a full calendar year after eight school days were cut last year — but, said Superintendent Mark Davalos, it represents a successful compromise.

Davalos“I think the budget is as balanced as it probably could be,” said out-going board member Nathan Helwig. School districts could always use more money, more teachers and more resources, he added, but he believes St. Helens did well with what it has.

A windfall of $660,000 in state money mid-May caused a stir during the budget planning process, sparking long debates about where the school district should put the money. Davalos and Business Manager Janine Salisbury recommended using the money to bring back some of the cut days, but putting the majority of the money to strengthen the next budget since rising PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) costs and other funding shortfalls are anticipated for the future.

Initially, the budget had proposed cutting six days. Now, only four days will be cut.

But the budget committee and teachers were divided, with many urging for a full school calendar year, more teachers, smaller class sizes and other issues caused by years of tight budgets.

The total adopted budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 represents a total of $38.4 million.

School board member Marshall Porter said the budget fulfills the district’s goals of bringing back days and teachers whenever possible.

“I think we did as much as we possibly could,” he said.