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Medford schools present budget

Medford School District officials are expected to pitch a $92.8 million operating budget to a work committee Tuesday.

The proposal marks the first time in years the district will be able to enhance its budget rather than make cuts, thanks to the Legislature's increased educational funding, officials said.

The district's budget will likely entail adding teaching positions, reducing the class on average by at least one pupil; restoring building maintenance crews and digitizing records.

Schools Superintendent Phil Long is scheduled to give his budget message Tuesday to the 14-member committee charged with fine-tuning the document and providing district officials with feedback.

The draft budget will be available at the district's Web site, www.medford.k12.or.us, on Wednesday.

"We are anxious to see what the superintendent is going to say," said Sam Baldoni, committee member.

Oregon public schools are expected to receive between about $6 billion and $6.3 billion from the state in the next biennium.

Medford district officials are building their budget on the lower figure in which the district is expected to receive about $59.4 million from the state, an increase from last year.

The remainder of operating revenue comes from local property taxes and the state's Common School Fund.

Overall revenue for the district is projected to be $88.6 million, about $1 million more than the current budget year.

"The change in trend is good," Long said. "The hard thing is for the last three bienniums we have done cuts, and now, we have to rebuild."

Last year, the committee was faced with shaving $3 million from the budget, Baldoni said.

"It's gloomy when you have to cut things," he said. "It looks like this time there is going to be more of an opportunity to make a difference in the district."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or at pachen@mailtribune.com