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A $900,000 surplus from the previous school year helps balance out the revenue drop

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Middle school students congregate in the gymnasium on their first day of the 2018-19 school year. Enrollment is down slightly overall from last school year.

Traditional schools in the Crook County School District have 25 fewer students than a year ago, which equals a nearly 1 percent decrease.

While that may seem insignificant, CCSD Director of Business and Finance Anna Logan points out that it does impact the revenue.

"The total revenue projection for the year in the General Fund is projected at $31.5 million, which is approximately $150,000 less than budgeted," Logan reports. "State School Fund revenue is estimated to be approximately 3 percent below budget due to enrollment being 3 percent under budget and also due to the expected receipt of Forest Fees."

As of Sept. 30, CCSD had 2,688 students in traditional schools, which is 25 less than a year ago.

There are 56 students enrolled in either the Advanced Diploma program, the online option, or Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council. This number is seven more than a year ago. However, Logan pointed out that this group of students fluctuates throughout the year.

Although Powell Butte Community Charter School is allowed to enroll up to 210 students, they have only 200, which is one more than a year ago.

At the end of last month, the district enrolled a total of 2,944 students, which was 17 down from a year ago – or .6 percent.

"We always like to see that number go up — not exponentially — but a slight increase is always a good thing for us," Logan said.

Several factors can influence school enrollment levels.

Some students choose other educational options, birth rates vary, and employment and the economy can affect the local population.

"What we really need to do is be ready to respond to whatever that demand is," Logan said.

Despite the slight enrollment dip, there is some good financial news.

"The beginning fund balance, which is whatever was left over from last year that rolls forward to this year, we had budgeted for about $2.2 million, and it ended up being about $3.1 million, so that's about $900,000 surplus," Logan said. "What's great about that is if we can hold onto that throughout the year, which we should be able to, that'll help us a lot for next year."

There are still some financial challenges on the horizon.

Logan pointed out that PERS rates are going up more than 3 percentage points next school year, and the district will have a few other additional expenses.

"As we look to the future, we'll be able to plan ahead, and we don't have to do significant, traumatic things like cutting," she said.

Every October, Logan calculates 10-year future-looking enrollment projections that are based off of the new school year enrollment numbers.

"We originally started doing these enrollment projections because we were concerned about elementary capacity," Logan said, pointing out a spike in elementary enrollment in 2015. "We were concerned about how fast we were going to reach capacity and what we were going to do with buildings."

But that spike has leveled off, and having building space for a growing student population is no longer an immediate concern.

CCSD Superintendent Sara Johnson, however, proposed forming a long-range facilities advisory committee, and board members approved the plan Monday evening. Board member Doug Smith will chair that committee.

The committee will review and evaluate all of the district's facilities and make recommendations regarding a 15-year plan for maintenance, facility upgrades, facility replacement, property acquisition and/or new facilities to the district.

"Knowing that enrollment is not on an upward trend helps us decide what to do and helps as we start the next round of facilities planning," Logan said.

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