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Mosier plans budget cuts to schools

Like most schools in the country, Mosier Community Schools are tightening their belts for the coming year.

The budget that was approved during the June 18 board meeting for the elementary and middle charter schools reflected cuts that were made to cover a $101,000 shortfall caused by a decrease in rural schools funding.

Executive director Carole Schmidt told The Chronicle that she worked hard to fill the loss of funds without affecting the quality of education students were getting.

“The thing I focused on was cutting absolutely everything that doesn’t affect the classroom teachers and the small class sizes …we’re being very frugal,” she said.

Some of those cuts included a reduction of the heating budget (“The students might have to wear bigger sweatshirts,” Schmidt said), a delay of some planned textbook adoptions, a reduction in the number of workdays for Mosier Community School’s principal and shopping around to find better deals on everything from health insurance to banking.

Schmidt said the Mosier charter schools were helped by the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reform passed by the state that will give the elementary school about $26,000 in savings and will save the middle school about $11,000.

“That’s half a teaching position so we’re very grateful to have that back in the budget,” she said.

The only loss of staff for next year came when a specialty teacher providing science and math interventions got cut. Schmidt said the reduction in force was partly because of budget cuts but also partly because next year the sixth grade class will be a part of Mosier Middle School instead of Mosier Community School — a change that explains many budget changes from 2012-2013 to the 2013-2014 budgets for the two schools.

The school’s leadership also looked for ways to increase revenue. During their June 18 board meeting directors voted to increase the fee for renting the school building, which Schmidt says is used by one group or another every night during most of the school year. Renting the gym for a roller skating party, for example, will now be $60 instead of $50.

The board also voted to approve Schmidt’s recommendation to begin charging fees for afterschool clubs. Before the vote some directors expressed concern about making the activities prohibitive for low-income students.

“I coached basketball and I know of some girls who wouldn’t have played,” director Stephen Shwiff said.

The directors asked audience member Betsy Harmon, a music and library assistant for the school, how she thought charging $25 would affect the drama club, which is the most popular club at 60 to 75 students. She said if parents had to pay for their child to participate in drama they might think of it as more than just free babysitting after school.

“We need money and I think $25 is very reasonable for the experience the kids will garner,” she said.

In the end, directors voted to charge $25 for students not on free or reduced lunch, $10 to students qualifying for reduced lunch and nothing for students on free lunch.

The school relies partially on fundraising and Schmidt said she feels confident the school can meet its increased goals for next year.

Even if the schools don’t meet that goal, it won’t affect the 2013-2014 school year because the schools always fundraise for the year ahead so the donation revenue for 2013-2014 has already been raised.

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