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School Board Sets Sustainable Budget Strategy Direction

Board decides to close schools, reduce staff, negotiate compensation reductions, and more 

sustainableandbalancedFeb. 3, 2011 –

How do we provide 21st century learning and support achievement for all students in these tough economic times? That’s the crucial question in Eugene School District 4J, which is facing an unprecedented budget shortfall for 2011–12 and beyond due to shrinking enrollment, decreasing revenues and increasing costs.

After a months-long series of public discussions and community input, the Eugene School Board on February 2 took action to set a sustainable budget strategy direction that will drive choices as district budgets are developed over the next few years. Among their decisions:

Reduce Staff and Services

The largest cost reduction, and the most impactful, is the direction to reduce staff by as much as about 150 FTE ($8.6–$11 million)

  • Classroom teaching positions will be reduced by 55 to 84 FTE (2.5 or 4 ratio change), increasing class sizes significantly.
  • Administrative and classified staff will be reduced by 10%, leaving fewer people to support the work of students, teachers and schools.
  • TOSAs and SDSs (teachers on special assignment and staff development specialists) will be reduced by about $500,000.

Reduce Compensation Costs

The school board’s strategy direction includes asking employees to once again share the sacrifice and negotiate a reduction in projected compensation costs between $5.5 and $10 million:

  • Negotiate 9–12 furlough days for all employees, based on work year (year-round staff take 12 unpaid days, 10-month staff take 10 unpaid days, etc.), including 6 cut school days (the same as this year)
    Negotiate a pay freeze, including no step increases
    Negotiate no increase in benefits costs
    Negotiate a salary reduction of 5% across the board
    Negotiate a reduction in the PERS employee pickup

Close Schools

After years of declining enrollment, 4J now has too many schools with too few students to fill them.  As more teachers and staff are cut, it becomes harder and harder to maintain strong educational programs at very small elementary schools. The school board unanimously voted to close four schools after this school year. They will decide at a future meeting whether to close a fifth school the following year.

  • Coburg Elementary School will close in 2011.  The former Coburg neighborhood will become part of the Gilham Elementary School neighborhood.  Separately, the board also approved a proposal to create the Coburg Community Charter School at that site.
  • Crest Drive Elementary School will close in 2011.  The former Crest Drive neighborhood will become part of the Adams neighborhood.
  • Parker Elementary School will close in 2011.  The former Parker neighborhood will be divided between the Camas Ridge and Edgewood school neighborhoods.
  • Meadowlark Elementary School will close in 2011.  The former Meadowlark neighborhood will become part of the Willagillespie neighborhood.  Buena Vista Spanish Immersion School, which has been co-located at the Meadowlark site since the program began nearly 30 years ago, will remain in the building.
  • Twin Oaks Elementary School has been recommended for closure in 2012.  The school board will discuss that proposal at a later board meeting. [Update: The recommendation has been set aside for now. Twin Oaks will remain open next year.]
  • Charlemagne French Immersion School will remain at the Fox Hollow site for now.

Bond Measure

The school board will discuss and decide at a later meeting whether to ask voters to approve a bond measure. [Update: A $70 million bond measure will be on the May 17 ballot.]

Sustainable budget strategy direction