Work session fine tunes budget concerns
It's nearing that time of year when talk about the next year's school budget resurfaces. During a West Linn-Wilsonville School Board work session, Nov. 20, discussion about the budget committee and budget process sparked between Superintendent Kathy Ludwig, Business Manager Doug Middlestetter and the school board.
The three main points brought up were issues surrounding budget committee term length, training budget committee members and
committee representation zones.
The WL-WV budget committee is made up of 10 members — the five school board members and five appointed citizen members from both West Linn and Wilsonville.
The budget committee follows a 2-3-0 model. For example, two of the citizen committee members will vacate their positions in June 2018 and three will expire in 2019, leaving no vacancy in 2020. It is recommended that the committee is staggered so roughly one-third of the committee is up for re-appointment every year.
But an issue arose when WL-WV School Board vice chair Chelsea Martin, who was previously on the budget committee, vacated her spot when she was elected to the school board. This coincided with another person's term that ended, so the district filled both positions for three years — both are set to expire June 2018 — when the person who took Martin's position should have only filled out Martin's remaining term of two years, which would have ended last June.
During the work session, the board voted to keep the positions as is and fix the issue when the terms expire.
"We will not make any adjustment as a board to these five members and their terms," said Ginger Fitch, school board chair.
As far as training sessions go, Middlestetter has held informal sessions for the last several years to get committee members up-to-date on the budget process, vocabulary and what is expected of them so come spring, when the 2018-2019 budget is in full swing, everyone is caught up. While this is mainly targeted toward the citizen members, the board is welcome to be present. But if more than half of the budget committee attends, the district has to abide by public meeting laws that require them to post the meeting publicly so anyone can attend.
During the work session, board member Dylan Hydes said he feared that if this happened, citizen committee members might be more uncomfortable to ask certain questions. Martin agreed and said it would add a level of formality if school board members attended, so suggested only non-board committee members attend.
"The purpose of this is to get people up to speed; let's just let them do it," Martin said.
The school board decided they will revisit this topic at a later date.
The third key point discussed was the potential issue surrounding zones. Currently, the district does not require budget committee positions to be filled by either West Linn or Wilsonville residents, and it has still remained fairly balanced. A problem would only arise if all the committee members were from one place and began to favor one city — an issue they have not encountered. The board decided to keep the positions unzoned.