Eagle Point School Board invites budget comments

The Eagle Point School Board will take comments from the public Wednesday, June 8, on its proposed $35.1 million budget for next year for the district of about 4,200 pupils in northeast Jackson County.

The budget proposal calls for the elimination of 13 jobs and middle school sports, as well as increased insurance expenses for employees.

"There also are a lot of cuts here and there," said Eagle Point schools Business Manager Scott Whitman.

The cuts result from about $2 million less in federal funds for special services for students in poverty and emergency funding for schools. A jump in the required payment to the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System also added about $815,000 in costs.

The cost of PERS will go up from $3.2 million this year to $4.1 million next year.

Health insurance rates also are skyrocketing. Employees can expect an 8.5 percent increase next year. Employee contracts would currently place the burden on employees rather than the district. The district already pays about $4.2 million per year for health insurance.

Six teachers, six support staff and one administrator were eliminated in the budget. Layoff notices went out last month, though not all the positions were layoffs. Some reductions would be accomplished through attrition. For example, Doug McKenzie, Eagle Point schools special education director, decided to retire at the end of this academic year. His position will not be filled, and his duties will be divided among other administrators.

In lieu of league sports, an intramural middle school program will be offered next year at a reduced cost. The district will shave about $200,000 from athletics and activities, most of which accounts for the end of league middle school sports.

No school days will be cut this year, though that has been a common practice among Oregon school districts during tight budget times.

Eagle Point schools Superintendent Cynda Rickert has said maintaining a full academic year was a priority in the budget. The district would have 176 academic days under the proposal, the same as this year.

More details about the budget are available at www.eaglepnt.k12.or.us/Files/2012%20JCSD%209%20Budget%20-%20Proposed.pdf.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or email pachen@mailtribune.com.

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