Lower Taxes and Expanded Programs Slated from Hood River County Schools
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - The Hood River County School District budget will head to the school board after it was unanimously approved Tuesday evening by the budget committee, a body that includes seven appointed citizens and seven elected school board members.
The full budget can be reviewed on the district website, but highlights are outlined below:
- An additional 18.4 employees will lower class sizes, add electives, expand preschool and increase counseling, mental health and behavioral support in schools.
- The school district again demonstrated it only asks for money when needed by lowering next year’s tax rate on the Local Option Levy for all households by 4 percent.
- The budget maintains a 13 percent reserve, providing stability and protection against recession and other potential funding shortfalls.
“Over the last few years, the administration, under direction of our elected school board, has worked hard to create the conditions to secure our financial footing and strengthen our academic program,” says Superintendent Dan Goldman. “Our efforts to reduce our operational footprint while investing in the strategies outlined in the district’s ‘20/20 Vision’ have paid off significantly. I’m proud of our district’s financial leadership and stewardship.”
Accordingly, the district has received recent recognition for both financial and academic excellence, including: the district’s second consecutive Certificate of Excellence in fiscal transparency and accuracy; increased bond ratings from S&P Global Ratings on its general obligation bonds to an ‘AA-’ rating; five consecutive years of clean financial audits; named as one of the top 10 school districts in the state (fourth best for student-athletes); and the highest graduation rate in the school system’s history.
“Principals and other administrators deserve recognition for their careful consideration of the wellbeing and success of all students, but it is our dedicated frontline teachers and staff that maximizes every available resource for the betterment of our community’s children. The ultimate credit and praise must be given to our amazing personnel.”
Achievements directly tied to strategic investments include year-over-year increases in literacy, vastly improved school attendance, and lower rates of suspension and expulsion, key indicators of a safe and positive school culture.
In parallel to the local school budgeting process, the Oregon Legislature is deliberating over the state school budget. While school districts across Oregon were cancelling school on Wednesday due to teacher walkouts protesting the state budget, class in Hood River remained in session. In a message to Hood River County families, Superintendent Goldman stressed the significance of local community support that crosses political and cultural divides and ensures a robust local school system even while other school districts are threatened by cuts. While the letter thanked the community for their commitment to students, proven through volunteerism, consistent support for bonds and levies, and high engagement in other fundraising activities, it also called on state legislators to step up and play their role in building a world-class public education system across the entire state.