School District Cuts Four Days Due to Budget Shortfall

Vernonia Schools Superintendent Ken Cox announced  the need to cut four days from the current school year because of a budget shortage.

The announcement came at the April 11, 2013 Vernonia School Board Meeting.  Cox request that the Board take immediate action and cut May 10, May 17, June 6 and June 7 from the current calendar.  The  move would affect all school district employees and reduce their salaries by four days.  The Board approved the move unanimously.

Cox cited less-than-expected revenues and increased costs for the budget shortfall.  He noted that the lower revenues were due to a lower than anticipated student count this year, donations that were lower than expected, and credit from the ESD that was used for additional services, as well as several other unexpected reductions.  Cox explained that, among the increased costs,  were the addition of staff for special education and shop classes and higher negotiated salaries, expected savings in utilities that did not materialize, higher insurance premiums at the new building,  and additional moving expenses.

Cox explained that during the preparation of the budget for this year the district faced a number of unknowns.  “In order to save jobs we budgeted too close to the wire,” said Cox.

Cox reported that the current projected ending fund balance shows a $35,265 deficit.  By cutting four days this year Cox expects savings of $89,840, leaving  an ending fund balance of $54,575 to start the next school year.

Cox was not optimistic when he talked about the upcoming budget for the 2013-14 school year.  Cox said he expects a large increase in PERS contributions the district needs to make as well as less funding from the state due to cuts.  “There will be significant impacts on the budget next year,” said Cox. “With our student count continuing to drop, we will have a challenge and we will not be able to maintain the current staffing levels that we have at this point.”  Cox suggested that the first cut would be for the Superintendent to be reduced to a half-time position next year.