Thanks to the recent influx of money from the Oregon Legislature, Astoria School District, said Craig Hoppes, expects about $800,000 more for operations, including an additional four to five employees.

Thursday, the district’s financial manager, Louise Kallstrom, and Superintendent Craig Hoppes debuted a proposed 2014-15 budget of $16,911,027 for both revenue and expenditures, more than a $1 million increase from this year. The budget must be reviewed and adopted by the end of June.

It reflects the Oregon Legislature’s $100 million increase in school funding for the 2013-15 biennium to an overall $6.65 billion. The Legislature also enacted Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reform expected to save $270 million for schools in the biennium.

“Although improved funding and partial relief from PERS increases was provided by the 2013 Legislature, it does not allow us to return to prerecession staffing and programming levels,” read the district’s budget message. “Fortunately, we are situated to establish progressive, constructive groundwork for the future while maintaining efficiency measures.”

The State School Fund, 94 percent of the Astoria district’s general operating fund, jumped by more than $1 million from last year to this school year. And the district expects another $1 million increase next year.

“I’m optimistic that that’s a starting point to move forward,” said Hoppes about funding beyond this biennium’s surge to $6.65 billion. He recounted a recent Oregonian story that reported an already $1,000 gap in funding per student between Oregon’s and the U.S. average as recently as the 2011-12 school year.

“It’s a world of difference from the past couple years,” said Brad Johnston, second in command of both the Astoria Police Department and the school district’s budget committee.

Astoria’s portion of the school fund is distributed based on its average daily membership (ADM), an equalization formula to ensure equity throughout the state. Astoria estimates next year’s ADM will be the same as this year’s at 2,167.

The district's proposed budget supports the equivalent of 210 full-time jobs. Salaries and benefits take up 86 percent of the district’s general fund. The number of people employed is greater, as some are employed part time.

Some wishes come true

Meetings to form next year’s budget started in February, when administrators from each school created a budget for their schools. Each school created a wish list of employees and items, some of which the district added into its proposed budget, including:

• $126,000 for new technology, which Hoppes said includes the replacement and introduction of more than 100 Google Chromebooks to elementary and middle school students. Hoppes said the district’s technology fund for the last five years has been $33,000, dependent on passed-down equipment.

• Additional support for English Language Learners totaling $88,664.

• A third-grade teacher for $64,000 to ease class sizes.

• $50,000 to adopt new textbooks for the third through the sixth grade, which Hoppes said the district hasn’t done in five years.

• Adding special education monitoring for about $45,000.

• 10 percent increases to individual building budgets equaling $42,360. Hoppes said administrators in each school decide what to do with the increases.

• A curriculum director for $42,091.

The biggest single increase, though, could be $250,000 on the amount of money the district which it hopes will be $600,000 by the end of the next fiscal year on June 30, 2015.

One oddity is Warren Field, still included in the 2014-15 school year, is slated to receive $16,100. Kallstrom said the inclusion stays until the Astoria Sports Complex is ready. It’s expected to open by the football home opener Sept. 12.

The seven-member budget committee stewed over the budget a bit before taking it home for the night. They and the public review and comment on the budget. The next budget committee meeting is Wednesday.

Copies of the proposed budget, available at each meeting, can also be obtained through the district by calling 503-325-6400.


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