$235K budget shortfall leads to big changes at Harrisburg schools

The Harrisburg School District says it expects a $235,000 budget shortfall for the 2019-2020 school year.

Posted: Mar 19, 2019 7:09 AM
Updated: Mar 19, 2019 6:07 PM

HARRISBURG, Ore. -- Major changes are in the works to save the Harrisburg School District hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2019-2020 school year.

District officials said they expect a $235,000 budget shortfall, forcing them to make drastic changes. They're eliminating the district's middle school, its principal and executive secretaries. 

The shortfall is due to enrollment being down by 90 students, officials said. That means the district will be receiving less money from the state. 

Starting next school year, the elementary school will include kindergarten to sixth grade. Seventh to 12th graders will attend the junior/senior high school. 

“I think there is some real concern as to what that will look like," said Clare Buhler, assistant track coach at Harrisburg High School. "There are still some questions that need to be answered."

Some community members who did not want to be identified said they don't feel like the district has been transparent with the decision. They said many staff members at the school are upset about the changes and don't feel like the middle school should be cut. 

Parents said the change is sad, but they are trying to remain positive. 

“I trust that the school board has the best interest of the kids in mind,” said Jewel Hesser, a parent of students at Harrisburg Middle School.

Buhler said the district has had to make budget cuts before, so he said these cuts should not be surprising. 

“My feeling has been that they’re trying their best to look out for the needs of the students,” Buhler said.

Harrisburg School District officials hope to notify school staff about their job statuses by the middle of April.

Below is a copy of the district letter detailing the budget shortfall and planned changes:

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