Many school districts in Oregon are faced with tough decisions andndash; what programs have to be cut, how many teachers must be laid off and how many furlough days need to be taken to balance the budget. However, that does not appear to be the case for Brookings-Harbor School District for the 2012-13 school year.

Rather than make cuts, the district will add programs and staff.

"We should have more resources," district Business Manager Don Sweeney said. "It looks like the funding has increased."

At a meeting Thursday, Brookings-Harbor School Board members, appointed community members and district employees listened to Sweeney present an overview of the proposed 2012-13 budget.

The budget committee, consisting of school board members and citizen volunteers, must approve a balanced budget of $21, 003, 613 by June 30, with a $900,000 to $1 million carry over.

Board members and appointed community members liked what they heard.

"It's nice to hear something other than gloomy economic forecast," Board Chair Jamie Ryan said when asked what she thought of the presentation. "It's been kind of a long series of bad news forecast from the state. It seems like overall, things are finally turning around a bit. I think it was one of the more positive budget messages that we've had."

Appointed community member Bruce Raleigh agreed.

"It was a nice experience for a change to feel like we're able to fund the programs that we need and add some things back," Raleigh said. "Overall, compared to the last two or three years previous, the budget experience last night was a pleasantly positive one compared to the doom and gloom in the past and needing to cut."

Added programs and staff

The district will add two-and-a-half additional licensed personnel to bring back the seven-period day at Brookings-Harbor High School and to extend the instructional day at Azalea Middle School from 48-minute class periods, to 55 minutes.

A full-time Science and Physical Education teacher, and a part-time Language Arts teacher will be hired.

The changes will cost the district $176,000.

The district also will continue the full day kindergarten program at Kalmiopsis Elementary School, the expanded diploma "Beyond BHHS Program" in partnership with Southwestern Oregon Community College and will maintain a full academic calendar for the 2012-13 school year.

The district has decided to take over the Life Skills program from the South Coast Education Service District (SCESD) as well.

As a result, two additional special education teachers and five additional Life Skills instructional aides will be hired.

The decision will increase district salary costs by $329,000, but will reduce the district's predicted "backfill" contract to SCESD to $0. The district is required to pay SCESD when the services the district contracts cost more than the money the district is allotted from the state for ESD services, to $0.

Rather than contracting Life Skills employees from SCESD, the district will instead contract nursing, psychological and speech services because the district has struggled to hire people to provide students these services.

The change in contracted ESD services should save the district $232,000.

Other notable changes

Several projections which have been made regarding insurance and salaries for Brookings-Harbor Education Association members, but negotiations are still under way.

Transfers from the General Fund to Special Revenue Funds for bus leases, the cafeteria, high school and middle school athletics, maintenance, textbooks and student body funds were addressed in the budget, as well.

Finally, Sweeney said two of the three General Obligations Bonds the district had in the 2011-2012 school year were paid in 2011. The General Obligation Refunding Bond, Series 2004, with a principal payment of $595,000 and interest payments totaling $382,285 for the 2012-2013 school year is left to be paid.

A closer look

The budget was "all based on a little bit of what we want, and what we have," Sweeney said.

District employees first sat down and looked at what they wanted for the district, and what the most pressing needs were, he said.

Next, each department head, such as Brookings-Harbor High School Principal Larry Martindale for example, went to its staff and asked for requests. After receiving the requests, the department head chose which would be granted to meet the department's budget allocation.

Finally, Sweeney considered costs such as water and garbage, and what resources the district is expected to receive from the state to fill in the budget.

The district will be able to afford the added programs and staff as a result of a $1.4 million projected carryover into the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and an increase in resources from the Oregon Department of Education such as Average Daily Membership (ADM) funds, tax revenues and an increase in state, county and common school funds, according to the proposed budget.

The next budget meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 10 in the Kalmiopsis Elementary School Library. Public comment will be heard.