Superintendent: School district faces cuts due to funding shortfall

The Lebanon School Board approved an $88,800,999 budget at its June 15 meeting.
In a statement with the budget packet, Supt. Jennifer Meckley said the Oregon Legislature intends to issue an “inadequate” $9.9 billion appropriation for the 2023-24 school year.
With state and local funding combined, the Lebanon Community School District expects to receive $48,131,142 and has made “careful” reductions to accommodate the numbers and projected $55.9 million for the General Fund.
The board approved taxes for the budget at the rate of 4.9925 per $1,000 of assessed value and $4,345,896 for bonds.
The school district Budget Committee approved a proposed budget on May 25 that was forwarded to the School Board.
In presenting the budget, Meckley noted that the 2022-23 school year “has been a welcome return to pre-pandemic routines” for the district, which underwent “constant changes and adjustments” during the previous few years due to COVID restrictions.
During the pandemic, she added, the district saw an enrollment decrease “that we have not recouped.” The district is projecting an enrollment of 4,040 students (including charter students), which is a decrease of 15 from 2022-23, she said.
She noted that putting a budget together is “tricky” due to the “fluid” nature of the process.
The district has transferred $200,000 from
The district received one-time Elementary and Secondary Relief (ESSER) funds from the state and federal governments during the pandemic, which it spent “carefully,” Meckley said.
She said this year’s funding from the legislature “will not meet the rising needs within our school community nor allow us to maintain our current levels of service.”
That, together with the “Esser fiscal cliff a year away,” has forced the district to make the following assumptions and cuts:
♦ Cutting full-time equivalent staff by 20 positions;
♦ Decreasing elementary science textbook funding by $200,000;
♦ Reducing central departmnet budgeting by $162,600; and
♦ Decreasing district travel for professional development by $80,000.
The budget document can be viewed by visiting www.lebanon.k12.or.us/departments/business and clicking on “Budget Committee,” “Budgets” and then on “2023-2024 Adopted Budget.”
In other business June 15, the board:
♦ Approved 2021-22 audit results presented by Pauly, Rogers and Co. Business Director William Lewis III highlighted the report card for federal funds.
“That’s the big one where we are judged based on any federal funds above $750,000,” he said.
Any findings were “minimal” and can be corrected, he said, but ultimately the district “aced” that portion.
“The shift that surprised me the most – and I think this trend will continue – was the liability for PERS,” he said.
Even though it is the state’s debt, the district was required to put it on their books several years ago, which changed the overall financial picture from the positive to the negative.
♦ Approved a resolution for an appropriation transfer of $125,000.
♦ Added a new acronym to their dictionary of terms, namely LPGT, which stands for longitudinal performance growth targets, making the district eligible for grant funding.
In collaboration with the Oregon Department of Education, the district created LPGTs to review over the next four years using five metrics: four-year graduation, five-year completion, third grade reading, ninth grade on-track and regular attenders.
♦ Placed Lewis in a position as chief operating officer. Lewis said a restructuring in the district opened the opportunity for him to take on the role, which he likened to Meckley’s former position as assistant superintendent.