SEASIDE -?The Seaside School District has added more casualties to its list of probable cuts to next year's budget, and now the future of Cannon Beach Elementary is hanging in the balance.
Next year, Cannon Beach Elementary will be the target of a dramatic redesign that will send more than 30 of its 117 students to Seaside Heights Elementary, blend classes, and install Superintendent Doug Dougherty as the school's principal.
Dougherty said closing the smallest of the district's five schools was seriously considered as a way to cope with a $1.6 million projected shortfall in the 2010-11 budget, and may have to be revisited again the following year.
"We're going to have to make all of our decisions on a year by year basis for a while," he said.
Dougherty made the school redesign announcement to staff Monday, just days after six classified staff members got word that their jobs are likely to be eliminated at the end of the year. The announcement brought the total positions on the chopping block - including licensed teaching staff who were notified before spring break - to 17.
Three temporary special education assistants, two custodians, a special education assistant, a regular educational assistant, a Title I assistant and a part-time health assistant all got word from the district on Friday, Dougherty said.
Last month, 11 teachers, one principal and four other licensed staff members of the Seaside School District got word that they will likely not keep their jobs next school year. Also on the list is Cannon Beach Elementary School Principal Rosemary Kemper-Riddock. Any jobs lost in the Cannon Beach Elementary redesign were factored into those figures, Dougherty said.
The plan developed to keep the school open combines grades into one class, allowing two classrooms to be closed. Each blended classroom will have a class size goal of 23 students. New students to the school, who are within new boundaries, but over 23, may be transported to Seaside Heights Elementary School.
The Cannon Beach community's desire to maintain the school was an important factor in the decision, and Dougherty has heard feedback already about the decision.
"It's been very positive. I think everyone, especially in Cannon Beach, appreciates the opportunity to keep the school," he said.
Though the hole in the budget is just an estimate for now, results took into account a slew of expected increased costs and decreased resources influenced by outside sources. Dougherty said actual cuts could be softened as questions - like retirements and union contract negotiations - about next year's budget are answered.
But for now, the outlook continues to be bleak, and Dougherty repeated his earlier message about the troubles' source.
"The budget constraints Seaside School District is facing are reflective of a much larger national economic recession," Dougherty said.
Seaside gets enough funding from local sources - primarily property taxes and state timber revenue - to surpass what most other schools get from the state per child. Seaside is one of few districts in Oregon that does not benefit from the state's funding formula for schools, Dougherty said. Even with the downward trend in revenue, Seaside pays more to educate each child than most of the rest of the county, keeping class sizes smaller, Dougherty said. Jewell School District is the only other North Coast exception.
Dougherty asked administrators from each of the district's five schools to evaluate how they could spend less on programs and to make recommendations about staffing reductions.
The beginning fund balance - the amount carried over from the previous year - has dwindled from nearly $3.5 million at the start of the 2008-09 school year to about $1.6 million in 2209-10, and could be as low as $464,278 next year, according to projections.