Roseburg Public Schools’ budget committee put safety, student support, student opportunities, and teaching and learning at the forefront of its budget message.

The message is reflected in $454,279 budgeted for safety updates, $871,222 for student support, $463,559 for student opportunities, $485,229 for teaching and learning and $355,000 for ongoing operations.

Safety updates will include training, supplies, communications, cameras in elementary schools, seismic updates and an enhanced physical barrier at the high school entrance.

“We’re trying to really dedicate money to student safety projects,” said Cheryl Northam, chief operations officer at Roseburg Public Schools.

Student support funding plans to bring teaching and learning support specialists into the middle schools, keeping two full-time elementary teachers at Green and Hucrest to bring down class size, provide more professional development resources for special education staff, increase services for hearing and vision impaired students, purchasing risers for the high school choirs and increase tuition payment to Phoenix Charter and the Brightworks Program.

Adding two full-time physical education teachers in elementary schools and maintaining three PE teachers in the general fund are listed under student opportunity. This also includes allowing for adjustments in the extra duty salary schedule, dedicated middle school athletic budgets and paying $70,000 in unpaid lunch balances.

“We have an obligation to address the whole child,” RPS interim Superintendent Lee Paterson said. “I’m grateful that we are now able to provide full time physical education for all of our elementary schools. The added benefit of having trained professional PE instruction is in the time it saves for the classroom teachers to concentrate their attention on core instruction and to collaborate with one another for greater student performance.”

The Roseburg Public Schools board of directors will vote on the budget during Wednesday’s meeting, which will be preceded by a budget hearing at 6 p.m.

School budget basics

School funding comes from a variety of places, in Roseburg’s case an estimated $43.5 million comes from state sources, $18 million comes from local sources, $170,000 from intermediate sources and there’s a beginning fund balance of $3.7 million.

The beginning fund balance is the money that was unused during the previous school years and will be carried forward to the following school year. “You could consider it kind of like a savings account,” Northam said.

Taxes make up the largest portion of local sources, but also includes fees charged by the schools. Intermediate sources are the county school fund and revenue from the education service district.

Budgets used to require more local involvement, but in 1990 Measure 5 passed and shifted school district funding from local control to state lawmakers.

This year the proposed budget was created on a projected state education funding of $8.87 billion for a two-year period, with 49% of those fund available for the 2019-20 school year and 51% available the following school year.

“It helps us because generally you have cost of living increases, power bill increases. That helps us get a little more money in the second year of the biennium to offset that,” Northam said. “It’s pretty handy.”

While the budget was created on $8.87 billion, the most recent estimates indicate that there will be $9 billion available to schools for the biennium. School board members will be asked Wednesday to allocate the approximately additional $550,000 the district hopes to receive.

“I try to be conservative,” Northam said. “If you’ve already budgeted for the higher amount and you plan to spend the higher amount, it’s hard to take it back.”

Schools get funded based on a formula with several different parts, but depend on student enrollment and teacher experience.

Roseburg school district’s Average Daily Membership/Weighted, which is enrollment plus extra weighting for children with special needs and other factors such as children in poverty, will be counted as 6,927.69. Roseburg’s actual enrollment is around 5,900, including Phoenix School.

Roseburg teachers are slightly more experienced than the state average, which will allow the district to get a little more funding. “Pretty much all of us pay our teachers based on experience, the longer they’ve been here the more expensive they are,” Northam said. “Our teachers are slightly more experienced than the average so we get just a little bit of a bump.”

Leah Hamilton, Tom Nelson, Keith Cubic, Bernis Wagner, John Markovich and Larissa Hoskin served as community members on the 2019-20 budget committee. School board members Charles Lee, Micki Hall, Rebecca Larson, Joseph Garcia, Rodney Cotton, Howard Johnson and Steve Patterson were also on the budget committee.

General Fund proposals

The general fund includes the majority of the school district’s expenses, salaries and benefits. Other items included in this part of the budget are purchased services, utilities, supplies, textbooks, athletics, support services, transportation, administrative costs and others.

Salaries are nearly $30 million and benefit costs are around $18.5 million, totaling 76% of the general fund budget.

Paterson said, “Without the people who stand in front of the classroom each day, without the office staff who ‘keep the trains running on time,’ without the good people who make sure our buildings are clean and well-maintained, without the assistants who are always present when they are most needed to help the teacher, lend a hand to a struggling student and take on any number of small but critical tasks, without the lunchroom staff who feed nearly 6,000 hungry students every day and without the instructional leaders and experts in students who will not succeed without additional supports in our school buildings we would not be serving our students or our community.”

The average teacher salary in Oregon is $61,862, according to the Oregon Education Association.

According to the budget document there are projected to be 160.27 full-time elementary school instructors, including licensed and classified, which account for more than $8.03 million and would mean the average salary is just over $50,000 at the K-5 level.

In middle school the average is just over $58,000, Roseburg High School expects to employ 64.44 full-time employees and spend $3.8 million on salaries.

Additional salaries and benefits are paid to pre-kindergarten teachers, talented and gifted coordinators and teachers, and staff at developmental learning centers, turn around programs, home instruction, extended school year program, special classrooms, programs for hearing and vision impaired students, administration, etc.

Purchased services, which is when an outside entity does work within the district, are estimated to cost the district nearly $10 million in the next school year. This includes $3.8 million on transportation, $1.3 million in utilities and about $900,000 for substitute teachers.

Supplies and materials take just over $1.5 million, other uses of funds account for $4 million and other objects are proposed to cost the district $366,760.

Some new additions to the budget this year include a talented and gifted program, with a stipend for one teacher at each building.

For the first time, Winchester Elementary School’s preschool program also now has a budget line for $150,000. It had been funded by The Ford Family Foundation for the past three years.

The district has set aside $1.28 million for operating contingency “for unforeseen expenditures which cannot be anticipated during budget formation.”

When the district’s expenses are looked at by function, nearly $37.5 million goes to instruction, $23 million to support services, $1.28 million in contingency, an ending fund balance of $650,000, and more than $2 million will be transferred to other funds.

Other funds proposals

More than $2 million will be transferred from the general fund to other funds, including $880,000 to the capital projects fund, $400,000 to the seismic grant fund, $309,000 to curriculum improvement fund and $252,000 to a technology fund. Funds will also be transferred to a debt service fund, lunch fund and vehicle replacement fund.

“We actually have a few reserve accounts that go in there,” Northam said. “We take money from this general operations budget and we put it out here basically to save for large expenditures. If we know a full textbook adoption is going to be $600,000, we don’t have $600,000 in a year but we could maybe for three years in a row put $200,000 out there and then we’ve saved for that big purchase. ... That’s how we saved the money for the track.”

While the General Fund takes up the majority of the schools’ budget, there is also nearly $12.76 million in special revenue funds, $7 million in debt service funds and $5.36 million in capital projects funds.

“Increased funding in this budget means that we will fortify our efforts to maintain schools in a manner that the community expects,” Paterson said. “But that should remind all of us, that although our buildings are indeed well-maintained for their age, their deterioration will eventually need to be addressed through a focused school building, long-range facilities plan. Some day we’ll need to build new schools to replace buildings that are already decades beyond their anticipated service expectancy.”

Special revenue funds are used for grants and projects, technology, instructional support, rental properties, vehicle replacement, student body accounts and food service.

Grants and projects receives more than $5.8 million in revenue, with $2.8 million for the food service fund, $1.9 million for student body accounts, $1.2 million in instructional support funding and $583,000 for technology, $275,000 for rental properties and $135,000 for vehicle replacement.

While grants and projects take up nearly half of the special funds budget, most of that money is pre-designated by the grant writer. Money for the technology, vehicle replacement and instructional fund comes from the general fund.

The debt service fund is used to repay the district’s bond indebtedness, a loan used to renovate schools and the Public Employee Retirement System Bond Fund.

In December 2000 and January 2001 the district issued $23.9 million in general obligation bonds, which will be paid off with an annual $2.5 million payment by December 2020. Another debt incurred by the district was a loan used to renovate secondary schools and energy efficient projects throughout the district, which will be repaid in fiscal year 2021-22 with annual repayments nearing $228,000.

Roseburg Public Schools also participated in the Oregon School Board Association’s effort to issue bonds to refinance the Unfunded Actuarial Liability in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 for the Public Employee Retirement System, along with other school districts. According to the budget document “this is similar to refinancing your home mortgage at a lower interest rate.”

This school year the district opened another PERS Side Account with a $6 million deposit to offset future increases by 1.47%. This is projected to save more than $5.7 million in addition to the initial $6 million over the next 20 years. The budget committee proposes allocating $4.28 million for PERS Bond Funds in the 2019-20 budget.

Capital projects account for $5.36 million in the budget, which includes seismic updates at Fullerton IV, Hucrest and Melrose Elementary Schools, some funding will also be used to install energy efficient measures at Hucrest during the seismic rehabilitation.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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