Members of the Hillsboro School District Budget Committee unanimously approved a 2013-14 budget May 9 that includes $6.6 million in cuts to teachers and school days, $2 million less than originally proposed.

A repurposing of the use of a construction excise tax will save 22 general classroom teacher jobs and keep class sizes at a 30-to-1 staffing ratio.

Still, the budget calls for a fifth consecutive year of five cut school days, as well as the loss of 16 general classroom teachers, eight English language learner specialists and high school librarians.

Under the plan, one librarian will remain at the district level to maintain the library management system.

Additionally, athletic and activities directors at the high school level will each teach one additional class next year; each of the district’s four middle schools will have one less night custodian; all schools will reduce their discretionary budgets by five percent; and the administration will reduce its total budget by five percent.

The budget assumes the Legislature will appropriate $6.55 billion statewide for school funding.

“I am acutely aware of the ‘budget fatigue’ felt by our staff and community,” Superintendent Mike Scott wrote in his budget message. “We have been in reduction mode for five years now, over the course of which we have reduced general fund expenditures by $61.3 million.”

Carolyn Ortman, who has been on the school board for 21 years, said she seen more years with budget cuts than without.

“That’s a sad statement,” Ortman said.

ELL specialists, librarians

The eight ELL specialist positions are not classroom teachers, said Travis Reiman, executive director of English learner programs and professional development. They are teacher coaches.

“It’s sad to talk about reducing staff that serves the most vulnerable students,” Reiman told the committee. At the same time, ELL enrollment in the district has declined since 2009-10.

Budget committee member Wayne Clift questioned cutting high school librarians.

“Why target librarians? That seems like a fundamental life-skills service,” he said.

“Secondary principals are very concerned about class size,” said Matt Smith, executive director of secondary schools, who added that cutting a librarian position lets principals put more staff toward reducing class size.

Scott explained that program decisions — which classes are offered — at the secondary level are based on several criteria: if the class readies a student for college or career; if it aligns with community values; and if it aligns with the district’s strategic plan.

“I want to know there will be some consistency across schools,” said committee member Rebecca Lantz, referring to electives offerings at secondary schools.

“The principals are collaborating,” said Smith. “This is not an easy thing to look at.”

According to Scott, specifics on which elective classes will be offered next year have not yet been decided.

“There’s still time to have specific input at your schools,” Scott said.

The school board will meet June 11 to hold a public hearing on the budget and consider its adoption.

Board members have also been looking at the possibility of putting a local option levy on the November ballot that, if approved, would fund future technology upgrades and enhance maintenance and safety across the district.

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