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Projected ending fund balance up $237,000 to $1.7 million since 2018-2019 budget was first proposed

Ilean Clute, outgoing chief financial officer of the Newberg School District, had some good short-term news at her last district board meeting June 26, but also laid out how pending PERS increases will continue to be a challenge in the coming years, including the next funding biennium.

Thanks to the thriftiness of the administration and building principals in recent months, Clute reported that the district's projected ending fund balance (EFB) has risen approximately $237,000 since the 2018-2019 budget was first proposed in April. That includes an increase of $149,000 in May. The district is now expected to have approximately $1.7 million remaining at the end of the school year that kicked off this month.

"Most of this is from underspending," Clute said. "I do want to say I'm very proud of the admin and teams here that when you say, 'Spend very conservatively, only essential items,' people really stopped spending and outdid what I was expecting, on a lot of different fronts. Every time I did the cash flow, I was very surprised and I'm proud of them for that. I was not anticipating the amount of underspending and saving throughout this year."

Clute also noted that the district will receive an additional $389,000 in 2018-2019 after adjustments to the state school fund were announced June 12. She said that most districts in the state were seeing an increase due to a combination of increased revenue and a small drop in enrollment statewide, which resulted in a bump to average per-pupil spending.

The district did also adjust spending up $139,250 after reconciling some of the final decisions made around the reduction-in-force (RIF) process, including the elimination of one full-time equivalent person at Newberg High School, and a $68,000 adjustment to cover supplies for the Chehalem Online Learning Academy (COLA).

The new projected EFB represents 3.4 percent of the budget, pushing the district closer to the 5-percent target the board has set for unrestricted cash reserves. Clute also presented the board with a forecast for the 2019-2020 that put the modest gain into perspective.

She projected the EFB to fall to just more than $1 million (1.9 percent) by the end of 2019-2020, mostly due to the $2 million bump in PERS costs that will occur when the district's average rate jumps from 9.16 percent to 16.24 percent for the next biennium. That stimate is based on the projected enrollment for the next school year, which is expected to drop, but if the district maintains enrollment from the 2017-2018 year, the EFB will rise to $2.1 million or 4.0 percent of the budget.

Clute did say there are still many unknown variables in projecting the budget for 2019-2020, including state-funding levels for the next biennium and labor negotiations.

"With our PERS rates increasing, there are still going to be some challenges going forward, not just our ending fund balance next year but the year after," she said.

The board also approved changes to the 2019-2020 calendar, correcting an error in the timing of parent-teacher conferences in October. Those were originally scheduled for Oct. 10-11, but were moved Oct. 25-26.

The board also briefly discussed its options for increasing outreach to the community, including informal sessions where a board member will be available to answer questions. With board meetings moving to Monday nights this school year, the hope was to offer those once a month on a non-meeting Mondays, but that proved to be tough to schedule. The board is considering hosting those sessions on another day, perhaps on a Tuesday night, and additional outreach efforts, like visiting parent group meetings, but decided to work through those issues at its upcoming annual retreat.

Although the board will meet on Mondays for the remainder of the year, the first meeting of 2018-2019 will be held at 7 p.m. July 11. On the agenda for that meeting is the appointment of a replacement for retiring board member Melinda Van Bossuyt, a staff report on instructional technology and a report on the district's long range facilities plan.

School briefs

Private College Week coming July 23-27

George Fox University will be one of 11 schools in the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities to participate in Private College Week July 23-27. Prospective students and their families can visit, ask questions and learn about academic programs and financial aid, talk to admissions staff and tour the campuses of participating schools. Campus visitation sessions will begin on participating campuses at 9 a.m. and at 2 p.m. each day. For more information, including a list of participating colleges, or to register, visit www.oregonprivatecolleges.com.

Students earn degrees

Numerous Newberg students earned their undergraduate degrees from George Fox University this spring, including Erin Baker, Jamie Bohall, Kenny Dye, Ryan Geizer, Shelbi Graham, Jesse Groat, Sarah Herron, Ben Headrick, Kahlia Knox, Valerie Launius, Elly Liege, Christina Liu, Maddy McGowan, Kailee Michelsen, Grant More, Caitlin Smalling, Comfort Smith, AJ Spivey, Hannah Spivey and Katie Wells.

Farm Bureau offers college scholarships

The Yamhill County Farm Bureau is offering two $2,000 college scholarships to full-time students who have completed at least one year of college study directed toward a degree in a field related to agriculture, as well as earned a minimum cumulative 2.5 grade-point average during their time in college. Applicants are not required to be Farm Bureau members, but must have graduated from a Yamhill County high school or come from a family that lived in Yamhill County during their senior year of high school. All application materials, including an official transcript and two references, must be received by Aug. 1. The application is available online at https://oregonfb.org/scholarships/.

For more information, leave a message at the Yamhill County Farm Bureau office at 503-472-9123.

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