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District budget survey ends Monday


What qualities should a student have by the time she graduates?

That’s the question Tigard-Tualatin School District officials are asking in a new survey district leaders say will help guide proposed budget cuts.

The past few years, the district has managed to stay ahead of other school districts in the state and avoided major cuts to programs and staff positions by tapping its reserve funds. Those funds will run out at the end of this school year, forcing district officials to make some tough choices in the 2013-14 budget.

The eight-question survey asks parents, students and community members what characteristics Tigard-Tualatin students should possess by the time they graduate.

Survey results will help the district identify priorities before Interim Superintendent Roger Rada begins to put together next year’s budget.

“Instead of saying what we want to cut, we want to look at a set of outcomes,” Rada said. “What are the skills, the knowledge, the dispositions that we want (students) to possess? And then, we build our program to meet those outcomes.”

Rada admitted that talking about these outcomes might be optimistic in a budget cycle when the district will likely have to make major cuts. Any budget proposal his team puts forward will attempt to meet the priorities addressed in the surveys, he added.

“We’ll say, ‘Here are the recourses we have to work with. Now, what’s the best way to get to these outcomes?’” Rada said.

Survey participants are asked to prioritize a list of 21 characteristics, such as whether students should be bilingual or have strong personal finance skills.

It’s unclear what the amount of reductions the district will be forced to carve from the 2013-14 budget, Rada said. That figure depends on how much the state allocates to K-12 education funding.

“TTSD has situated ourselves better than any other district in the state getting through the hard times.” Rada said.

However, the Public Employees Retirement System will likely tap the bulk of any additional education funding the state issues, he added. “PERS is eating up any additional revenue the state has.”

The public has until Monday night to participate in the community survey.

Those interested in weighing in on are asked to visit ttsdschools.org and click on “Portrait of a Graduate survey.”