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Schools chief to outline recommended budget cuts.

Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard

The possible shutdown of the Eugene School District's radio station, KRVM, has grabbed headlines and prompted a flurry of e-mails and phone calls to both the station and the district offices in recent days.

But it's just one of a long list of proposed cuts to the district's central office for next school year, many of which will have repercussions in the classroom, officials said. And more cuts are almost certain to follow, depending on what state lawmakers set aside to spend on education in the next biennium.

This first round of job cuts adds up to $1.4 million, and would leave the district with 40 percent fewer central office employees than it had in 1990, district spokeswoman Barb Bellamy said.

"Really what we are trying to do is preserve the staffing levels we have out in the schools," Bellamy said. "We cut 55 teaching positions this year ... and that has had an impact on class size as well as the electives that schools are able to offer."

But Bellamy and others stressed that the loss of these positions will nonetheless take a toll - however subtle - on individual schools.

"None of these are services that are not valuable to what we do as a district, so they will all have an impact on schools," Superintendent George Russell said.

Russell will outline his recommended cuts at a joint meeting of the school board and budget committee tonight. He'll also offer a reminder that more cuts - totaling anywhere from another $4 million to $10 million - are likely in the next two years.

"This is really just kind of the first attempt to identify the cuts we can make away from the classroom as much as possible," he said.

His proposal would cut:

The station manager position at KRVM, a public radio station that gives students broadcasting and engineering experience on its FM station. Its AM station is leased to Jefferson Public Radio. Neither could continue without a station manager.

Curriculum coordinators. One position would be eliminated in December, and another would be half funded through a federal literacy grant.

Communications coordinator.

Research and evaluations specialist. The position would be made half time.

Media services and instructional materials coordinator, a half-time position.

Budget analyst.

Human resources administrator.

Multicultural coordinator, a half-time position, and equity coordinator, a 0.8 position would be reduced to 0.3, all of which would be funded through a grant.

Technology specialist and user services specialist.

Facilities management director. Half of the position would be funded through the general fund and the other through the bond fund.

Facilities supervisor.

Electrician. Half of the position would be funded through the general fund and the other through the bond fund.

Cabinet shop specialist; groundskeeper; two heating/ventilation/air conditioning/refrigeration specialists; two painters; two carpenters.

One yet-to-be-identified administrative position.

Maurie Denner, principal at Washington Elementary School, said he hadn't seen the full list of cuts, but was already concerned about the loss of computer specialists.

"This year we've probably had close to 40 to 50 hours of help from those people getting new machines installed, getting those up and running and getting (training) on how to use them," he said.

"Without that person, it would simply fall to the people in the building to do it very inefficiently."

Paul Duchin, president of the Eugene Education Association, said teachers share that concern.

"I'm afraid that will severely and negatively impact classrooms," he said, noting teachers' increasing reliance on technology as a teaching and record-keeping tool. "To have all these computers is wonderful, but if we don't use them, the investment just doesn't bear fruit."

Should KRVM close, kids would lose out on an opportunity that engages them in school, offers invaluable experience and boosts confidence, station manager Carl Sundberg said. He plans to attend tonight's meeting, and expects a big turnout of supporters.

"We're getting a pretty good mix of people who love the station in general and people who love the students," said Sundberg, who hopes the district will give KRVM a chance to become self-sustaining.

Tonight's meeting is simply a preview; the full budget won't be presented until April 28. The district is basing its budget projections on a state allocation of $4.8 billion for K-12 education, which would equate to deficits of $2.6 million next year and $5 million 2004-05. That assumes a freeze in employee wages and benefits - something unions may not accept. The district is currently bargaining contracts with both its certified and classified employees.

Some estimates have placed K-12 spending at $4.6 billion, which would boost the district's biennial shortfall to $10 million.


When: 7 tonight

Where: Auditorium, Education Center, 200 N. Monroe St.

To testify: Public comments will be taken at the start of the meeting from anyone who has filled out a card. No decisions will be made tonight.

For information: Call 687-3309.
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Title Annotation:The Eugene district would trim or cut many nonteaching positions, including the station manager of KRVM radio; Schools
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 9, 2003
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