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Superintendent Kathy Ludwig says staff cuts are expected for the upcoming fiscal year

PMG FILE PHOTO  - The West Linn-Wilsonville School District expects funding shortfall due to COVID-19 pandemic

West Linn-Wilsonville School District Superintendent Kathy Ludwig provided a grim preview of upcoming budget discussions in a message to families Friday, May 8.

According to the release, the district projects a $9 million to $11 million funding shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year, and the majority of expenditure reductions will likely come from staff cuts. The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic downturn has led to shrinking school district revenues statewide.

"To be prepared for significant reductions, I will present a budget that includes a number of scenarios to reflect various levels of reduction," Ludwig wrote. "Unfortunately, the majority of these reductions will be in staff, which is where the majority of our budget is spent. We are also making adjustments to expenditures in the current year (2019-2020) to save jobs and keep programs for next year."

The district also said that while it previously anticipated receiving $7.6 million in grant funding from the state, it doesn't expect to collect this money.

"Based on the economic downturn, we are putting a 'hold' on any hiring or implementation of new programs that were identified in the SIA (Student Investment Account) grant fund," Ludwig wrote. "This is a difficult decision to make, especially after the extensive planning and outreach work that was done to envision actions and support systems funded by this grant. We were looking forward to investments in social-emotional supports and protecting class size."

However, the district expects to receive $460,000 in funding through the federal CARES Act relief fund.

The district has yet to begin the budgeting process, according to District Director of Communications Andrew Kilstrom, due to uncertainties about the economy and the pandemic. However, the school board is slated to first discuss the budget during a work session June 22 and the district will first hold a budget information and community listening session webinar May 29.

"Thank you for your patience, understanding, and resilience amidst these unknowns," Ludwig wrote. "We are grateful to have such an amazing community, with families, neighbors, faith groups, and businesses that rise up to partner with us and support our efforts."


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