SLSD committee approves $66 million budget for '18-'19

 At Monday night's school board meeting the South Lane School District (SLSD) budget committee came together to approve the 2018-19 South Lane School District budget.

The budget of $66,119,297 was unanimously approved by the committee.

Acting superintendent Kyle Tucker – with added input from business supervisor Phil Scrima, special services coordinator Chad Hamilton and director of human resources Brian McCasline – led the meeting by going page-by-page through the nearly 60-page document.

The budget committee and school board sporadically asked follow up questions as the meeting pushed on.

“Some places we will just say 'Hey, we’re going to point out  three or four things and then they open it up for question but here we go page-by-page.' Then it justifies and helps the budget com- mittee and the board realize what’s in the document, what’s there and what’s available. So, that is a district process. That would look different in Creswell or Drain,” said Tucker.

Items that were questioned included the reduction of the amount spent on textbooks. Last year the price total was $125,000, when a new math curriculum was added. This year, it's $60,000.

“Unfortunately, it becomes about priorities and yes, the text- books are a priority. But I guess as we have conversations amongst us when we get to that point of saying it’s that or a full-calendar, at this point we just have to make these choices,” said Tucker.

Some of the highlights of the budget that Tucker pointed out at the start of the meeting include no cut days next year, adjustment in custodians for the new Harrison Elementary School, a medical assistant position for medically fragile students, and the addition of a community classroom at Lincoln Middle School that will include a teacher and an educational assistant.

One of the long-term budget items that will also be impacting this budget is the implementation of a new bus fleet by 2025. To ensure that all of the buses in the SLSD fleet are up to the Depart- ment of Environmental Quality emission standards, the district is budgeting for three new buses per year, including in the upcoming year.

While in some states the approval by the budget committee marks the end of the process, here the next step of the process is for the budget to go up for vote at the school board meeting on June 4.

“At the board meeting it will be just the board, there will be an opportunity for public input. If there’s no public input the board will have the opportunity to do that and then somebody will make a motion to adopt what the budget committee approved tonight,” said Tucker.

While the intricacies of the budget can change from year to year, Tucker began the meeting by reminding those in attendance that 85 percent of the budget goes to paying employees.

The reality is this is a people business,” he said.

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