The Klamath County School District’s 2019-20 budget will add 4.5 full-time teaching positions, purchase new textbooks, and increase mental health services while funding all current programs.
The district’s The district’s budget committee earlier this month unanimously approved the $108.2 million budget, which maintains all programs, including elementary PE, middle and high school athletics, technology instruction, college-aligned pathways, engineering and STEM, and co-curricular programs like FFA, FBLA, DECA, drama, yearbook, robotics and music.
The Klamath County Board of Directors is scheduled to adopt the budget at its June 20 board meeting.
The Klamath County School District operates 21 schools and serves around 6,600 students in kindergarten through 12th-grade. It also operates the Klamath County Transition Program, which teaches independent living and work skills to adults ages 18-21 with moderate to severe disabilities.
The 2019-20 budget includes $4 million in new funding from the state Legislature. Most of that money will be used to pay for an expected $2.5 million increase in PERS (public employment retirement system) costs as well as negotiated salary increases, said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District.
The budget funds the district’s top priorities, which include controlling class sizes, purchasing updated textbooks, supporting early learning, and continuing capital improvement projects.
Construction and maintenance priorities in the budget include replacing the boiler at Henley Middle School, Bonanza Schools drainage improvements, replacing the Henley High School gym roofs as part of a seismic grant and renovating the Big Gym at Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School using construction excise taxes. The district also will continue its modular replacement projects, constructing a new classroom building at Stearns Elementary School.
The district opened a new six-classroom building at Peterson Elementary School in September 2018, and a new classroom building at Henley Middle School is scheduled to open this fall.
The new teaching positions, which were added to accommodate a projected enrollment increase of 25 students, support the district’s continued effort to control class sizes.
A full-time teaching position will be added at Ferguson Elementary School and a full-time position will be added for fifth- through- eighth-graders at Falcon Heights, the district’s alternative education program.
Henley, Lost River and Mazama high schools will each receive a .5 FTE (half-time) teaching position for social studies, health/math and language arts, respectively.
An additional full-time position for Brixner Junior High School was approved during the May 16 budget hearing. That position will be .5 FTE for social studies and .5 FTE for AVID, which is paid for from Measure 98 funds.
Measure 98 was passed by voters and funds career and technical education and programs that support increasing graduation rates.
AVID is an instructional strategy that gets students ready for college or the workforce, said Jeff Bullock, the district’s secondary curriculum director. Currently, sixth-graders at Stearns Elementary School who will be next year’s seventh graders are using AVID and doing well with the additional supports it provides.
“It’s a school-wide instructional program,” Bullock said. “The goal is to lower dropout rates and improve graduation rates.”
The budget committee also approved a $120,000 increase (from $105,000 to $225,000) to its contract with Lutheran Community Services, which provides mental health services to the schools.
During its second budget hearing May 16, the committee also unanimously approved moving $25,000 from its contingency fund to maintain the current Play2Learn program, which has been funded in part by a state grant.
“It’s a great program,” said budget committee member Ray Holliday, who also is involved in Klamath Promise and the SMART reading program. “We have turned part of our focus to kindergarten, recognizing that by the time students get to high school, we are chasing the problem.”
The general fund budget has a $926,828 contingency fund and a projected beginning fund balance of $2.95 million.
The budget committee includes members Ray Holliday, Shannon Hand, Donald Clark, John Kite and Lafe Smith, as well as the five members of the Klamath County Board of Directors – Jill O’Donnell, Denise Kandra, Steve Lowell, Robert Moore, and John Rademacher.