GOLD BEACH – The Central Curry School District will cut teachers and other staff, athletics and school days to make up a $440,000 shortage forecast for next school year.
The Gold Beach school Budget Committee on Thursday approved a general fund budget for next school year of $5,216,177, Supt. Jeff Davis said Friday.
“That will eliminate 2 1/2 teaching positions, a 3 1/2-hour cook’s helper,” he said. “We’ve eliminated eight days, which will have to be ratified with licensed staff.”
Although the teachers must agree to the days cut, other staff has no say.
He said two of the teachers cut will be from Riley Creek school.
“We’ve cut $10,000 out of middle school athletics. We’ve eliminated funding for cheerleading, cross country, wrestling and track and field at the high school,” Davis said.
“We’ve eliminated all textbook purchases,” he said. “Those are the major items.”
Davis said teaching assistants have been reduced to four hours.
“We’ve also cut $10,000 out of the contingency fund,” he said.
Davis said the budget committee raised the estimate of carryover fund balance, but that figure won’t be certain until the audit is complete in August.
“We had to make some pretty drastic cuts,” he said.
The superintendent said class sizes would be larger in first through fifth grades.
“We anticipate class sizes of 24 to 28, depending on who shows up in September,” Davis said.
“A lot of that depends on if Riley Creek stays at one grade level or if kids in first and second grade or third and fourth grades are combined,” he said.
Combining two grades in one classroom requires more preparation for teachers, he said.
The cuts come after voters twice rejected two tax levies, the latest vote on May 15, which proposed a tax of 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years beginning in fiscal year 2012-2013.
Voters defeated that five-year levy 1,137 to 901, or 55.81 percent to 44.19 percent. Last September, they defeated a three-year local option levy by a similar vote.
“We talked about the way demographics have changed in Gold Beach from logging to tourism and fishing,” Davis said of the budget committee.
“I don’t know if the board will want to try again,” he said. “We’ve taken a levy out twice, but the voters said ‘no.’”
He said the school board will now vote to ratify the budget.
Much of the budget problem is caused by enrollment at the Gold Beach School District continuing to slide.
The schools have lost nearly 150 students in the last six years, which the superintendent is blaming mostly on the area’s continuing high unemployment rate.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things, but it’s mainly the economy,” Davis said. “There’s not a lot of jobs in Gold Beach.”
Six years ago, there were 640 students enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12. As of earlier this year, the current numbers are down to 493, Davis said.
The projection for next year is approximately 460, he said.
He said the district has lost students whose parents worked for the county and have either been laid off or are worried about the county’s future solvency. Also, some families have been affected by layoffs at the Curry General Hospital.
The decline in enrollment means less state funding for the district, which typically receives about $5,800 per student, Davis said.