Ten teaching jobs could be eliminated to close funding gap

Seeking to trim an already vastly reduced general fund, the Lake Oswego School District board approved its $62 million general fund budget on Monday to sew up next year’s budget gap.

The budget includes a loss of seven to 10 teaching positions and an increase in the number of students per teacher. How many teaching positions are eliminated depends in part on state funding, which is 70 percent of the school district’s resources. The state Legislature was to vote on its schools budget this week but delayed its decision to next week.

“There’s a lot of moving variables in the (district’s) budget,” said John Wendland, school board president.

Finance Director Stuart Ketzler said financial projections for the 2013-14 ending fund balance could improve because of PERS reforms passed to date.

“An updated financial model will be issued when we have more certainty on the final state number and updated staffing and enrollment numbers,” Ketzler said.

For now, the district’s budget, which goes into effect July 1, will change the staffing ratio, adding one student per teacher at all grade levels. It will raise the ratio to one teacher per 29 students at the high and junior high schools with fewer students per teacher in the lower grade levels.

Depending on how many students enroll next year, the plan could require fewer teachers. All grade levels’ actual ratios are currently below the proposed ratio, except those in physical education and electives at the high school level.

Personnel costs constitute more than 87 percent of the budget, and the district already has made major sacrifices, such as shuttering three of nine elementary schools, leaving positions unfilled and instituting employee furlough days for the past two years. Three furlough days are on the school district calendar for next year — ådays during which district employees are not paid and school is not held.

If the district had chosen to make no cuts, the ending cash balance would have dropped from $4.8 million in 2012-13 to $1.4 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, Ketzler said. It would fall into the red for the following two years.

Instead, district officials are aiming to save at least $1 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year. The district plans to reduce the budget by an additional $1 million in 2014-15 and another $1 million in 2015-16.

For more information, visit the Lake Oswego School District website at, or call 503-534-2000.

In other school district news

The Lake Oswego School District and the Lake Oswego School Employees Association reached a tentative agreement on a contract.

The three-year tentative agreement is scheduled to go before the school board on Monday along with the teachers union’s tentative agreement. If the board approves them, the contracts go into effect July 1. More information on the agreement will be released when the contract is approved.

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