More cash means TTSD will invest in staffing, programs, district says

Tigard-Tualatin Superintendent Ernie Brown says the district is looking at a $4.4 million in extra funding next year, which it will use to restore years of cut programs.When the recession hit the Tigard-Tualatin School District six years ago, it hit hard.

Since 2008, the district has cut 138 positions, about 13 percent of its workforce, and spent nearly all of its reserve funds in order to stay afloat.

But the tides are shifting in the 2014-15 school year, said Superintendent Ernie Brown. For the first time in several years, the district will be able to start adding back to the classroom.

Brown estimates the district will have about $4.4 million in additional revenue next year, which will be earmarked to invest in staff positions and programs that were previously eliminated by budget cuts.

A chunk of the revenue comes from the Oregon Legislature, which allotted additional dollars toward education and recently changed the way it funds school districts serving students living in poverty.

The district’s local option levy also stands to make an additional $1 million this year, after years of dwindling cash flow due to the recession.

“I am so stoked that we get to add stuff back,” said board member Jill Zurschmeide on Monday. “That is so cool.”

Learn more

What: Budget Listening Sessions

Where: Twality Middle School, 14650 S.W. 97th Ave., Tigard

When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 15

What: Budget Listening Sessions

Where: Hazelbrook Middle School, 11300 S.W. Hazelbrook Road, Tualatin

When: 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 17

The extra $4.4 million in funds won’t be nearly enough to restore the district to its former financial footing prior to the recession, but it’s a start, Brown said.

“This is wonderful news. To be able to talk about reinvestment is a really positive thing,” Brown said. “Not to temper that too much ... but we have a ways to go.”

To return the district to its 2008 staffing numbers would cost the district about $10.4 million, Brown said.

“And that’s not taking into consideration all the other things that weren’t people (that were cut),” he said.

What will next year look like?

The district is planning two community listening sessions next week to lay out its plans on Tuesday, April 15, at Twality Middle School and Thursday, April 17, at Hazelbrook Middle School.

Adding items back to the budget will have to be done in phases, Brown said.

The district plans to roll back a few of the changes prompted by budget cuts.

Brown said the district will start by reducing class sizes by targeting specific areas in elementary, middle and high schools.

“We do not have the ability to make meaningful class-size reductions across the board,” Brown said.

The first step will be making strides to reduce class sizes in the kindergarten through second or third grades in 2014-15.

Brown said middle school math classes and high school math and language arts classes will also be smaller.

The district also plans to rehire some staff, including teachers and other positions such as school secretaries and janitors.

“Custodial services are a good example,” Brown said. “Those were cut deeply, and there may be some additional resources to go back there.”

Free kindergarten

The district also plans to roll out free full-day kindergarten at Bridgeport and Metzger elementary schools next year, Brown said, in anticipation of the 2015 law that all districts offer free full-day kindergarten for all students.

The district previously offered free full-day kindergarten at Metzger, Bridgeport and Tualatin elementary schools years ago, Brown said, but those programs were eliminated due to budget cuts.

Brown said reinvesting in the kindergarten programs at Metzger and Bridgeport was the right thing to do.

“Those are our two highest poverty schools,” Brown said. “In recognition of that fact, that over $1 million of the money we have to invest is coming in because of the fact that we have so many students of poverty, we want to support our families living in poverty. We’d love to get (free full-day kindergarten) to all 10 (elementary) schools. But knowing that’s not reality the first year, we believe this is a meaningful step in that


After next week’s listening sessions, the district’s Budget Committee will meet May 14 to forward a final budget proposal to the School Board.

Next school year’s budget is expected to be adopted at the May 23 School Board meeting.

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