After discussing the bleak financial picture facing the Enterprise school district Monday night, the Enterprise school board agreed to ask administrators Brad Royse and Blake Carlsen to draft a contingency plan if the Jan. 28 income measure is defeated.

Royse said early in the meeting that the failure of Measure 28 would cost the district an additional $120,000 to $140,000 that will have to be cut from an already slashed budget.

Board member Bill Ables pointed out that 85 percent of the district's budget is tied up in personnel costs.

Schools Superintendent Royse said that the budget problem is consistent all over Oregon. He said one popular means around the state to reduce costs is to cut the number of school days on the calendar. He added that the reduction of five to 20 days off the calendar would be coupled with the re-opening of teacher negotiations.

Royse said that he yet has been unable to pin down the savings per day if a school year is reduced, but added that he is close to arriving at such a figure.

"We certainly do have a monetary crisis," said board chairman Randal Anderson. "And the prognosis on Measure 28 does not look very good."

The discussion strayed briefly to the possible consolidation issue between Enterprise and Joseph schools. It was noted by Royse that the current study being done by Dave Smyth will not be completed until March. Royse told the board that even with a positive recommendation that the consolidation process would take two to three years. "It will not be enough to get us out of this current budget crisis," he said.

The consensus of the board was to address the immediate shortfall if the Jan. 28 measure fails, then address additional cuts at future meetings. Royse noted that the school is behind in repaying QZAB bond dollars, in paying the alternative school, behind in hot lunch payments and still losing enrollment. It was noted that the district lost 55 students from September 2001 to September of 2002.

Anderson, Royse and board member Kathy Siebe recently returned from an Oregon School Board Association conference and reported what they had learned. The common denominator from their respective reports was that schools across the state are facing the same budgetary dilemma. Anderson said that he had learned that Oregon ranks No. 1 in the United States as the state which "puts all of its eggs in one basket." He noted that 74 percent of the state budget comes from the income tax. He also noted that only four states in the union pay less state and local taxes when compared with personal income.

"I do not where we are headed, but it is not pretty," said Anderson.

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