Beaverton’s well-regarded public school system will face its fifth consecutive year of multi-million-dollar cuts, forcing the district to eliminate 344 of its roughly 4,000 jobs, under a 2012-2013 budget approved Monday night.
The district’s $304.3 million general fund spending plan, approved in a 5-2 school board vote, reflects a $37 million shortfall, said Maureen Wheeler, Beaverton schools spokeswoman. Among the reasons for that shortfall: dropping state support, lower school district reserves thanks to earlier draw-downs and higher per-teacher costs because of union-negotiated raises and the rising cost of health care.
The changes students will see in the coming school year include:
- More crowded classrooms, with 28 students per kindergarten teacher, and 30 students per teacher at other grade school and middle school levels.
- Cuts to high school athletic programs like golf and water polo.
- More students per speech, autism and other special needs expert.
- Substantial cuts to art and music programs.
Temporary teachers have already been notified that they may not be asked back, but the district is waiting to determine how many people have accepted early retirement offers before sending out further layoff notices, Wheeler said.
Next school year’s cuts come on top of $105 million in reductions spread over the past four district budgets, and reflect an effort by new superintendent Jeff Rose to bring stability to financial planning for the Beaverton School District, she said.
“We’re hoping for improvements after the coming year,” Wheeler said. “We’re going to have to wait and see what the Legislature does. Some of the preliminary numbers we’re seeing suggest that things are improving.”