April 12, 2017
Medford School District (MSD) Superintendent Brian Shumate presented a balanced budget for the 2017-18 school year to the Medford School District Budget Committee Wednesday night. The budget prioritizes continued strategies and initiatives already leading to improvements in student achievement and outcomes. The strategies are:
“I am convinced that the Medford School District is built on the solid foundations of the past, is currently responding well to current trends in society and education, and is poised to be a leader in educational practice, innovation, and results for students in the state of Oregon and in the nation,” said Superintendent Shumate.
The MSD was informed that the state legislature anticipating the state’s May revenue forecast before finalizing the K-12 school funding portion of its budget. Therefore, the district may not learn the exact funding allocation until this summer, possibly as late as July. While the governor proposed an $8.015 billion K-12 funding for education for the 2017-19 biennium, current revenues do not currently support that level of funding. Therefore, the MSD is budgeting assuming $7.8 billion funding allocation for K-12 education.
“While the $7.8 billion funding level is a 5.7-percent increase biennium over biennium, it is only a 2-percent increase year over year for 2017-18. If K-12 funding comes in higher than expected, we have a plan in place to increase reserves and spending next year (through the budget amendment process) in a manner that first prioritizes financial sustainability and achieving results for students while also providing improved learning and work environments,” said Dr. Shumate.
The funding of the Measure 98 tax referendum passed by Oregon voters in November to fund specific high school programs is uncertain at this time. Based on current information, the MSD could receive $600 per high school student, which equates to approximately $2.3 million per year.
“We believe this funding, if realized, will allow us to begin to research and build the infrastructure to build an online school, providing opportunities to help both students who are falling behind and students achieving at the highest levels,” said Dr. Shumate.
The MSD’s costs to maintain current programs and staff continue to increase. Well-documented increases in employers PERS contributions will cost the MSD $2.8 million per year beginning in the 2017-18 school year. This amount will continue to rise each of the next three biennia. Medical plan expenses are projected to increase nearly 11-percent next year alone. The MSD offers market rate salaries and benefits for its employees and is budgeting a one-percent Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) pay increase, as well as increases in contractual employee step raises. The district is currently bargaining new contracts for both of its employee groups and the results of that bargaining may cause certain compensation elements to change.
To balance the budget, the MSD will make $1.1 million in spending reductions for the 2017-18 school year, including the reduction of seven full-time positions, mostly through attrition.
The MSD credits recent improvements in student achievement and outcomes to the hard work of educators and support staff and the implementation of the strategies mentioned above. The district’s graduation rate increased ten percentage points from 2014 to 2015 and then another two percentage points from 2015 to 2016. Smarter Balanced Assessment scores and the daily attendance rate are also on the rise.
The MSD is making several investments to further improve student achievement, such as: guaranteed curriculum for consistency across schools, grades, content areas, and courses; maintaining class sizes; expanding career pathways; expanding technology in the classroom; and removing barriers for students.
“Our student enrollment has continued to grow, partly due to a renewed parent confidence in our schools and partly due to population growth in the region,” said Dr. Shumate. The district anticipates a need for an additional new school facility within the next three to five years. “We appreciate the partnership and commitment of our community to our students as we improve student achievement, reduce opportunity gaps and transform the Medford School District for generations to come.”
The next Budget Committee meeting will be held April 26th at 6 pm in the Medford School District Boardroom. The public will have an opportunity to comment. All Budget Committee meetings are posted on the MSD website.