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Oregon Trail budget offers chances to reach students

The 2014-15 school district budget was approved April 29


Oregon Trail School District officials are hopeful that this year’s budget will bring more focus to educating students and less on survival.

“Over 4,000 children are enrolled in Oregon Trail schools, and we aim to ensure that all of our children arrive at the future they deserve,” said Superintendent Aaron Bayer.

At a meeting Tuesday, April 29, the School Board approved the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

Budget Director Tim Belanger said one of the key differences betwen the proposed budget and the current one is that it calls for no staff reductions.

“We’re pleased to be able to not have to look at reductions to balance the budget,” Belanger said.

This will allow them to put more focus on enriching the education of their students, he added. “Of all the things out there, that’s really the most important,” he said.

In addition to retaining staff, the budget will allow the district to reinstate two of its five furlough days.

Belanger said Oregon Trail faces more challenges than other districts closer to the Portland area. “We just don’t receive a lot of the supplemental resources that you see in others,” he said. This means the district doesn’t have as much financial flexibility.

“State school funding is outside our control, but we will continue to collaborate with our employees to mitigate rising costs,” Bayer said.

Part of the flexibility that the district did decide on was an effort to support improvement in pre-kindergarten students. A sum of $50,000 will go toward more organized and comprehensive jump-start programs.

Jump-start is a small class offered to children about to start kindergarten in the district. The program strives to teach important pre-kindergarten skills, such as holding a pencil, writing names, knowing the alphabet and following instructions, so kids can excel once enrolled.

Belanger said the district’s current jump-start classes have been pieced together by resources they’ve come across, and reach only a few students, but progress has been so notable that they hope to expand.

“We’ve seen such a marked improvement in those students that we believe it’s one of the priorities,” he said.