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Several staff positions were cut, and three furlough days will be added to the calendar this school year.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - The Sherwood School Board approves massive budget cuts. The Sherwood School District has cut five staff positions and will cut three days out of its academic calendar for the 2022-23 school year as it wrestles with an unexpected fiscal shortfall.

The Sherwood school board voted Wednesday, Nov. 9, for cuts intended to plug a $2.5 million hole in the budget. Those reductions include furlough days and cuts to staffing.

At the Oct. 12 school board meeting, the district presented numbers showing the district had been taking in less money than projected since 2020, leaving it with a sizable gap to close for expenditures to equal revenues this school year.

The shortfall was discovered, officials said in October, after Jeremy Lyon took the reins as interim superintendent and Gary Bennett became chief financial officer, a new position for the district, this past summer.

Previous superintendent Heather Cordie left the Sherwood School District for a job in the larger Beaverton School District after the 2021-22 school year.

Staff cuts

As part of the 2022-23 school year budget reductions, a school psychologist and health/physical education teacher have lost their jobs, the school district says.

Additionally, an elementary counselor position was reduced from full time to half time, and a language arts teacher faced reduced working hours.

Of the school district's classified staff, Superintendent Lyon told the Gazette, "We would have had three lose their jobs, except they all resigned before being laid off. We had 10 to 12 staff have their hours reduced, but they retain their jobs."

As to administrators, no jobs were lost. A district office position was left unfilled when the individual left in late summer.

Lyon said, "In summary, we had five employees (two teachers, three classified staff) lose their jobs outright, but three of those five (all classified) decided to resign."

Calendar changes

Another component of the budget reductions will be three furlough days this school year.

Lyon described furlough as a day when the entire school district comes to a stop. No one is working, aside from essential staff to ensure campuses are safe while schools are closed.

"Beyond that, every single person takes a proportional pay cut — beginning with the superintendent, all through district office — every campus, every department," Lyon said. "That yields about $200,000 in saved salary. The silver lining on that is that's essentially two or three positions that you don't have to eliminate."

Announced furlough days will be March 24, 2023, the day before Spring Break, and two days at the end of the school year: June 15 and June 16. The last day of school will now be June 14, 2023, which is a Wednesday.

Budget situation

A financial summary offered at the board meeting showed $1.07 million reductions in staffing, and $846,695 in discretionary funding, for a total of $1.91 million.

When about $600,000 in furlough savings are added in, the total is over $2.51 million in expenses trimmed from the budget.

Bennett, the schools CFO, said Sherwood had already seen some staff attrition, saving about $300,000 in budgeted expenses, before officials announced they had discovered the shortfall.

"We had to cut $2.2 million after that, so that total (reduction in spending) is $2.5 million," Bennett explained.

At the October meeting, the district explained factors behind the deficit, including overestimation of state school fund revenues, declining enrollment and ineffective financial reporting and account practices.

Additional reductions are expected to be identified in the 2023-24 school year.

District goals

At the Nov. 9 meeting, Lyon addressed school board members.

"None of this is seen as an accomplishment that we like," Lyon said. "All of this harms people, harms students and harms the Sherwood School District. It had to be done to restore this district to some degree of financial stability in the immediate present school year, and it puts us on a trajectory where we can return stability permanently over the next coming years."

Bennett added, "While we go through these reductions, it's just really hard to minimize the impact this has on the people impacted. Even while there are some bright spots, and that we were able to save a lot of positions — I think through some creative maneuvering and through attrition — none of that helps if you're one of the people who got reduced."

Bennett added, "I think all of us are really upset and just have this pit in our stomach, and I just felt compelled to say that to those impacted in multiple different ways."

Lyon said efforts are underway to find new jobs for those laid off.

"We are doing everything we can to place the two certified teachers who have lost their jobs in surrounding school districts," Lyon said. "We are looking to help these two land on their feet as soon as possible."

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