Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald



The Baker School District's 2012-13 proposed $16,673,316 budget shows an increase of $570,198 from the current year's document.

After an hour-long review of the plan, the budget board members agreed to meet again next week to consider any revisions that might be made as more information becomes available from the state.

The budget board will meet again at 6:30 p.m. May 22.

In his budget message Tuesday night, Superintendent Walt Wegener said the proposal is based on 98 percent of the state's projected funding for the biennium. District administrators have taken a conservative approach to budgeting because of the instability of state funding, he said.

Staffing numbers in the budget proposal are about the same as this year, Doug Dalton, the district's chief financial officer, told the budget board members.

"It's about a wash," he said. "We have had a lot or retirees and a lot of new hires. There's been a lot of change, but the numbers are about the same."

The budget will continue the four-day student week the district implemented this year and at least one furlough day for staff and more if necessary "should conditions warrant additional pay reductions as state revenue unfolds during the coming year," Wegener said.

The budgeting plan is based on a student population of about 1,680 students, which is a drop of about 45 students from this year's enrollment.

"We continue to support technology, online studies, fine arts, expanded options and all our programs," Wegener said. "Our choice of a four-day student week has maintained or increased student-teacher contact time, even in the face of the staffing reductions that have occurred."

The teachers will continue working under the same contract approved a year ago and a settlement is pending with classified employees, who include secretaries, teaching assistants, cooks and other nonlicensed workers.

The board agreed during its regular meeting Tuesday night to accept a two-year contract agreement that calls for no increase in wages or benefits and prorating benefits for workers employed less than half time in the district.

The agreement, which was reached after three years of negotiations, will go to association members this month for consideration, Cindy Johansen, a Baker Middle School secretary and Oregon School Employees Association president, said after the meeting.

The 2012-13 budget also includes $430,132 in federal stimulus money.

"We're not expecting any more," Dalton said. "This revenue stream is gone, we've been expecting it and I think we're prepared for it."

An operating contingency fund of $400,000 also is included in the proposal, which Dalton said might be increased to $475,00 to $500,000 by next week as numbers are finalized. And the beginning fund balance is set at $825,000, a figure Dalton said the district hopes to grow to $1.2 million in future years. But before that happens, the district will be required to use $400,000 to $500,000 to maintain operations.

"That keeps staff and programs in place," he said. "The organization will move along smoothly. We're going to use the money and then grow it back."

Community representative Ginger Savage was elected to serve as board chair and Jim Tomlinson, another community volunteer, was elected vice chair. The board also includes community members Rusty Munn, Tom Hudson and Dennis Wright. Hudson and Wright did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

Baker School Board directors Lynne Burroughs, Kyle Knight, Jim Longwell, Andrew Bryan and Mark Henderson comprise the remainder of the 10-member budget board.