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The new math: Inside the Medford school budget

There are winners and losers — mostly winners — in the Medford School District's proposed $113.2 million operating budget for 2014-15, which is buoyed by an additional $6.7 million in revenue.

The district's budget committee, made up of seven school board members and seven community members, will have about two weeks to review the budget and ask questions before meeting again May 20.

The public also will be allowed to comment on the proposed budget at the meeting.

Board Chairman Jeff Thomas said the budget will have to be somewhat vague to allow incoming Superintendent Brian Shumate the flexibility to work with the board to execute his vision. Shumate begins July 15.

"We spent a lot of time and energy in finding a superintendent, and I want him to have a say in how the money is spent," Thomas said, adding that he wouldn't be surprised if the budget were amended later in the year to accommodate Shumate's plans.

Administrators say the $6.7 million in increased revenue, most of which came from the state, will allow the district to begin funding programs and projects that have been cut in recent years.

Here are some of the areas in which significant changes were proposed:

The district will provide the same level of music instruction but added nearly $150,000 to the music budget to pay for one additional full-time music teacher and one additional part-time music teacher. Julie Evans, director of elementary education, said the number of classrooms is expected to increase next year when the district hires additional teachers, which means more music teachers will be needed.

This summer, the district will hire 32 teachers and counselors to cover an eight-week summer school program at Central, North and South Medford high schools and a three-week summer school program at Hedrick and McLoughlin middle schools. Last summer, the program was only available at the high schools and was focused primarily on credit retrieval. The 2014 summer programs will serve about 1,500 students.

This $5.75 million budget area includes services, supplies, staffing and equipment necessary to maintain the schools, auxiliary building and grounds. Chief Financial Officer Brad Earl said the $306,145 decrease is primarily the result of the district's energy conservation measures, which include replacing a 60-year-old boiler at Hedrick Middle School with a new, high efficiency model.

The total budget of $462,248 includes administrative assistant positions, but the biggest chunk is the $200,000 salary for Shumate. In 2012, Superintendent Phil Long's salary was $145,247. However, Long also received annuity, early retirement benefits, disability insurance and a stipend for his doctorate, which Shumate will not receive. The district also increased the amount of out-of-district travel for the new superintendent.

In the 2013-14 budget, the district grouped the majority of costs related to a teachers' strike under this category, including legal fees. It did not include payments to substitute teachers or staff overtime during the strike.

The Southern Oregon Conference recently expanded to include four additional high schools, including schools in Eugene. As a result, 70 more trips are scheduled for next year. Part of the increase would allow the teams to travel by charter buses rather than on school buses, Earl said. Among other things, that would reduce the time the trips require, Earl said.

Earl said that part of the increase in this budget item, which totals more than $945,000, was a placeholder to give Shumate options should he decide to change the administrative structure.

This budget item was reduced in part because the district saved money in teachers' salaries during the strike and was able to take on several projects early that had been planned for 2014-15. The roughly $4 million allocated for projects in the coming year includes money for replacing flooring and roofing at both middle schools and upgrading security systems at several schools.

The projected 2014-15 budget is available on the district website, www.medford.k12.or.us.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Fifth-graders work in the computer lab at Lone Pine Elementary School in Medford. Mail Tribune / file photo - file photo