District breaks out budget pencils

It’s time for Oak Harbor School District to start crunching numbers for the 2003-04 school year, and a budget committee has been selected by the school board to start the process.

A list of committee members submitted at Monday’s board meeting includes Darlene Buss, Lynn Goebel, John LaFond, Joe Mosolino, Kim Page, Diane Pierce, Tony Silveira, Duane Sisto and Tom Glenn. The committee will meet in four special sessions every other Monday starting April 7 and ending May 19.

Schools Superintendent Rick Schulte said the district is getting a late start on the budget process this year due to uncertainties in state and federal funding.

With the possibility of less revenue and increased expenses, Schulte said it is likely the district will have to make budget cuts.

One bright spot is that Schulte came back from a trip to Washington, D.C., last week with a glimmer of hope for Impact Aid funding. The House budget committee has approved reinstating funding for military B students, who live off base. If it passes the Senate budget committee it would be about $20 million to divide among affected districts.

“It’s not the big cut we were worried about a few weeks ago,” Schulte said.

As for state funding, there has been little movement on the state budget, so the district does not have a lot go on. Gov. Gary Locke has not backed down from his proposal to cut $500 million in education funding and suspend initiatives 728 and 732, which would reduce class size and give teachers cost of living allowances.

Schulte said the budget committee, working with the school board, should have the budget hammered out by June, with final approval by the last board meeting in August.

District considers public relations

One item the budget committee will be looking at is if the district can afford to implement a community relations program, including hiring a director who may make in the $80,000 range, including benefits.

Schulte said the idea for a community relations program came out of the district’s strategic plan. Goal number six of the plan calls for developing a “communications/community relations plan that encourages a stronger relationship with all audiences with the school district and community.”

“Part of the responsibility of the school district is to engage the public and the staff in information sharing,” he said.

While most school districts larger than Oak Harbor have community relations departments, smaller districts don’t. Schulte said Oak Harbor school district is “on the cusp” between the two sizes.

Prior to making the decision to hire a PR person, an advisory committee would examine the need for the position, and what the purpose and function of the department would be. If they decide to give it the go ahead, a director could be hired by August.

According to the strategic plan, the job would include establishing better internal and external communications and integrating technology into communications. The director would also review relationships with news sources and establish new connections, in an effort to be proactive rather than reactive.

Schulte said the $80,000 salary figure is based on salary guidelines from the National School Public Relations Association, and is 20 percent lower than the association’s average pay for the position.

School roof changes

Also at Monday’s meeting the board approved a roofing design change after district construction manager Gary Goltz told the school board that the Oak Harbor Elementary re-roofing project had hit a snag, which will change the design and increase the cost.

Goltz said they had planned on replacing the “butterfly” roof design with a pitched metal roof, but discovered the structure of the building would not support the additional weight. Structural upgrades to accommodate the trussed roof would put the project $300,000 to $400,000 over budget, so they have opted instead to go with reroofing the current roof.

The material used will be a heavy duty vinyl, or what Goltz called “vinyl on steroids.” He said the synthetic hypalon membrane system has been used on Oak Harbor Elementary’s north building and Olympic View Elementary. The drain system on the v-shaped roof will also be improved, as that has traditionally been a trouble spot for leakage.

Goltz said with the structural seismic upgrades and this new roofing system the project will be $50,000 to $100,000 over budget. He said there are adequate funds in the capital projects budget to cover this cost.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at or call 675-6611

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