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School board approves budget plan.

Byline: Alisha Roemeling The Register-Guard

The Eugene School Board has unanimously approved a $389.4 million budget proposal for the 2017-18 school year that accomplished the district's goals: no furlough days, holding the line on class size, and preserving classes and programs.

The board approved the 2017-18 budget based on a State School Funding level of $7.8 billion, which is what the state allocated to the State School Fund for the 2015-17 biennium - but that figure is likely to increase.

On Tuesday, the Oregon House passed the new state spending plan at $8.2 billion for the next two years - a funding level that's up 11.2 percent from the current budget.

The state Senate passed it on June 8, and the proposal now heads to Gov. Kate Brown's desk to be signed.

Eugene district officials estimate that if Brown signs off on the new state spending plan, it will receive about $8 million more from the state for the 2017-18 school year.

At a work session June 21, board and committee members discussed with district staff where additional funding could be spent. The district crafted the potential new spending adjustments based on its "Vision 20/20" strategic plan that emphasizes supporting students academically and emotionally.

If an extra $8 million is allocated to the district, it plans to reduce class sizes, increase full-time counseling positions at most elementary schools, increase funding for special education services, adopt K-12 world language curricula and do away with graduation fees, among other things.

The board and budget committee most likely will meet sometime in August to make formal decisions about additional state funding, should it become available.

While the budget achieves some priorities, it will not reduce class sizes - which average about 26.5 students per elementary class. Reducing class sizes would require a spending increase in the face of a $5.37 million budget gap. Estimated revenue for 2017-18 is $171.7 million, but projected expenses are $177 million, district documents show.

The proposed district general fund spending plan for 2017-18 totals $191.2 million, up 6.7 percent from $179 million in the current year.

The uptick in district spending is needed to cover increases in employee salaries, benefits and retirement plans, and to avoid drastic cost- cutting measures, such as scheduling unpaid furlough days and teacher layoffs.

Officials planned, as of June 21, to fill the gap with a combination of increased revenue from the Legislature, an increase in money coming to the district from rising property tax receipts and a significant dip into the district's reserve fund.

Much of the money for the increase - about $85.2 million - comes from the Oregon Legislature, which boosted K-12 spending statewide for the 2015-17 biennium by about 5.75 percent more than what was allocated in 2013-15.

Eugene's booming real estate market, which is driving up property values, also is giving the district a boost.

Rising property tax receipts for the current year are projected to provide the district with about $98.7 million, which accounts for about 37 percent of the overall budget, district documents show.

The general fund makes up about 49 percent of total budget resources. The district will spend about 85 percent of the general fund, or about $149.2 million, on employee salaries and benefits.

The proposed district general fund spending plan for 2017-18 totals $191.2 million, up 6.7 percent from $179 million in the current year.

The approve budget will add some full-time-equivalent positions, boost counseling time for elementary school students and increase the district's contingency fund, among other things.

Follow Alisha on Twitter @alisharoemeling. Email alisha.roemeling@registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:Eugene School District; It doesn't include the extra $8 million that Eugene officials expect to receive from the state for 2017-18
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 28, 2017
Words:607
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