Phoenix-Talent schools won't cut class days

The Phoenix-Talent School District has announced it will cut no school days this school year. But cutbacks, including possible layoffs, are not out of the question for next year.

The district of nearly 3,000 pupils had considered shaving five days off the current school year to offset losses in state funding.

"It's nice to have this year out of the way, and now we just have next year to worry about," said Phoenix-Talent schools Superintendent Ben Bergreen.

State lawmakers passed the School Day Restoration Fund March 5, earmarking about $51 million in federal stimulus funds for public schools. That money has helped many districts avoid shortening the school year. Oregon already has one of the shortest school years in the nation.

Phoenix-Talent will receive an estimated $235,000 of the stimulus funds, Bergreen said.

"When that money came along we decided not to (cut days), so it was a big help," he said.

The district also withdrew $700,000 from its reserve fund, he said. That leaves the district with another $700,000 in contingency funds to carry over to next year, about 3 percent of the district's $23 million budget. Finance experts recommend school districts keep a reserve fund of at least 5 percent, but that has been difficult to follow for many districts in these difficult economic times.

There also will be no layoffs this school year, but like some other districts around the state, Phoenix-Talent expects to have to lay off employees for next year.

"I do anticipate given the current funding situation that we will probably have to lay off staff," Bergreen said. "I just don't know to what extent."

The state has not yet provided districts with estimates of how much state funding they can expect in the next biennium.

Bergreen and superintendents around the county hope the Legislature will provide them with a firm number soon.

"If we reduce the number of staff, it would be nice to have something to point to," Bergreen said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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