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FINANCIAL WOES NOT OVER YET

Facing a $764,000 deficit this year, the Brookings-Harbor School District has stopped nearly all spending, including overnight student trips, conferences and workshops for staff, equipment purchases and sod for a ball field.

Current open staff and administrative positions and future openings will likely go unfilled this year and next.

These cuts, and others like them, will enable the district to accommodate the deficit without laying off any people, said District Superintendent Paul Prevenas.

But the cuts wont end there. The district is estimating it will be short approximately $1.2 million for the 2002-03 school year, which it hopes to reduce to $520,000 through potential revenue sources.

Its going to be tough, but its not a major crisis not like what other school districts throughout Oregon have been dealing with, Prevenas said.

For example, he said, school districts in the North Bend and Coos Bay area have had to lay off teachers and combine schools.

Prevenas said he did not anticipate any staff or administrative layoffs in 2002-03. Were going to budget without laying off people.

He added, The cuts may seem hard because we have not had to make any until now. Weve been very fortunate.

He asked everyone to keep things in perspective. When you have a budget of $10 million, $750,000 is not huge.

The school board learned last week that the district would be receiving $764,000 less than it had budgeted for the 2001-02 school year.

According to district Business Director Valarie Shapton, the biggest hit was in not receiving approximately $284,000 from the state, along with another $242,000 the state took back because of a previous overpayment.

The district also earned $77,000 less in interest on investments and received $89,000 less in Medicaid reimbursement.

By curtailing spending immediately, Prevenas said the district should be able to cover the $764,000 deficit this year and still have about $700,000 carry over into 2002-03. The district traditional likes to have $1.5 million carry over, he said.

The district draws on that money periodically throughout the year to cover daily and monthly expenses in between receiving funding from the state and federal government.

Prevenas said the districts financial situation will not impact the school bond funds or the new construction.

The school bond money is in a completely different budget. It is not at risk, he said.

As for the 2002-03 school year, the district is hoping to reduce an anticipated $1.2 million shortfall to about $520,000 by using approximately $225,000 in lottery grant money and other possible revenue sources.

The school board had been considering using the lottery grant money for improvements to property next to Kalmiopsis Elementary School, but that is completely off the table now, Prevenas said.

Its possible the district could receive another $250,000 in funding from potential revenue sources such as Title 1, Medicaid and state and federal programs for special education, he said.

The district also listed $220,000 in potential income from the state should it decide to return federal timber repayment that it redirected from public schools into the states general fund last year. But Prevenas said the chances of getting the money are remote.

The districts $1.2 million shortfall is based on estimates presented by the Confederation of School Administrators, a lobbying organization for Oregon school districts.

Everything is our best guess at this point, Prevenas said.

The Brookings-Harbor School District wont know exact numbers until the Oregon Legislature finalizes the governors state budget sometime this week or next.

Meanwhile, Prevenas has asked principals at the districts four schools to seek ways to cut costs for the rest of the year (see related story).

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