Following the citizen/board budget committee's recommendation, on Wednesday the Sisters school board adopted a $15,660,170 budget resolution for the 2014-2015 school year.
This figure represents a $500,000 reduction over last year's budget, and partially addresses the $800,000 shortfall predicted in March of this year. Board chair Don Hedrick stated that the balance of any shortfall will have to come from reduction of days or personnel.
Annual labor contract negotiations are currently in progress with both the certified and classified unions. The outcome of those negotiations will determine the makeup of any further required budget reductions.
The school week will remain at five days.
In March the school board held a town hall meeting to inform the public about the potential shortfall and to help explain the causes. According to the detailed presentations, the primary cause of the budget shortfall was a drop in school enrollment. An unexpected decrease in the state pass-through funds was also a contributor.
As part of the town hall, the public presented a number of ideas and projects that they felt might help address the expected shortfall. A number of these projects are still being fleshed out, including a community-based group focused on marketing Sisters schools to all visitors and residents of Central Oregon.
With Central Oregon's current open enrollment policy, students can attend the school of their choice within or outside the school district where they live. Out-of-district students are responsible for their own transportation. Currently Sisters has daily school busses picking up kids in Redmond and Tumalo, and points in between.
Each out-of-district transfer into the Sisters district is worth roughly $7,000 per year. Adding 45 kids to the 70-some transfers already enrolled in Sisters schools would go a long way in eliminating the shortfall. However, the effectiveness of this solution will not be apparent until enrollment numbers have settled, a few weeks after school starts in the fall, and the budget must be balanced by July 1.
In other school-board news: The board honored Brandon Pollard and Olivia Chandler, two Sisters High School (SHS) seniors who recently won state championships. Pollard won the state championship in the 800 meters. He also set the SHS record at both 800 and 1,500 meters. He will be running both cross-country and track for Gonzaga University next year.
Chandler won state dressage championship as part of the SHS equestrian team. She competed in five events, and piled up enough points to also win the versatility award, one of only four such awards given in the state. Chandler also won state championships in her freshman, junior and now her senior year. She will be attending the University of Oregon.
As part of their junior-year honors english project Emily Christen and Maddi Boettner shared their project essays with the board. Christen's essay addressed the increasing issue of sleep deprivation among highly active and involved teens. Boettner's essay tackled the subject of "Why or Why Not We Enjoy Coming to School."