WALLOWA – The 2012-2013 budget drafted to serve an anticipated 213 children in Wallowa High and Elementary schools will be $160,000 higher than the year just completed and no jobs will be cut.

In fact, superintendent of schools Bret Uptmor says the school district has hired one additional person, Rocky Prince, to work as a half-time custodian and half-time maintenance employee.

Uptmor had anticipated pulling $300,000 from reserve funds to meet total expenses during the just-completed 2011-2012 school year, yet says he didn’t have to do so. Financial savings were realized through a light winter that significantly reduced anticipated fuel and snow removal expenses.

A total budget of $2.7 million will be upped to $2.9 million for next school year, says Uptmor.

An immediate expense facing the Wallowa School District will be a major upgrade on the boiler system that heats both schools. Uptmor had no projections as to what cost could be involved with that upgrade, but says work will begin in July.

In addition to Prince’s salary, two other cost increases in the budget hinge around the Wallowa County Education Service District and unemployment costs.

According to the superintendent, the ESD has been providing its services to the Wallowa schools at no charge; but no longer. Beginning next school year, Uptmor says the Wallowa schools will pay the local ESD $50,000 to provide special education services for about 37 children, for bookkeeping and technology services, and for consultation in regard to title programs.

Because of a situation where the schools in Wallowa had been drawing more money from unemployment insurance than they should have prior to Uptmor’s arrival last year, he says the schools now must refund money to unemployment above the normal rate.

Uptmor says student population projections for next year are down slightly from attendance figures for the just-completed school year. One contributing factor to the smaller figure is that the 2012 graduating class was larger than the incoming kindergarten class looks to be.

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