RAINIER — The Rainier School District has managed to pull out of a projected budget deficit that threatened staff positions and a preschool classroom, the Rainier School Board heard at its Monday night meeting.
Rainier School District business manager Scotti Erickson reported that the district has filled a $260,000 budget deficit by not filling some empty positions and transferring funds from the garbage truck reserve and capital projects fund. However, the district still is perilously strapped, with a projected ending balance of only $9,500, Erickson said.
“We’re still dangerously close to zero, so there’s no wiggle room,” she told the board. “We need to be cognizant of that going forward with decisions we’re making for the rest of the year.”
Most of the deficit relates to the Briarcliff Pool, Erickson said. Although the district closed the pool to save money this past summer, the district is still paying off a debt of $253,690 for past years of operation, according to board documents.
However, payments from the community group Friends of Rainier Pool will play a role in balancing the district’s books, Erickson said. The group took over paying for pool operations in the fall so the high school swim team could still practice there.
The district received a payment of about $5,000 from the Friends of Rainier Pool for November. It is expecting December’s payment soon, Erickson said. January’s invoice will be sent to the community group this week.
“We’re getting caught up,” Erickson said.
More funding is on the horizon, as well. Erickson added that enrollment numbers are higher this year, which means the district should get more state funding next year. However, she said the district would not be able to access those funds until next May.
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In other business, Superintendent Michael Carter told the board that Rainier’s school-based health center was recently audited and passed with flying colors.
The nonprofit center stands out from other Oregon school-based centers, according to Sherrie Ford, public health director of Columbia Health Services, because it serves the whole community.
“We’re providing primary care to all ages, with an emphasis on the student population,” Ford told the board Monday.
The center provides mental and physical health care and served over 500 people last year. Ford said patients average three visits per year to the center.
“It’s not just one stop for a physical for sports and then we never see you again,” Ford said.
Carter said the center is ranked in the highest level by the state, which is impressive for a rural district.
“We appreciate your work ... It’s been a dream come true,” Carter told Ford.
In other business, the board:
- Gave permission to the school trap shooting team to take overnight competition trips.
- Renewed the Northwest Regional Education Service District service plan for the upcoming year, to give Rainier technology support, special needs support, administration services and other services.
- Approved a memo of understanding to share a behavioral health director with Vernonia and Clatskanie.
- Set a budget meeting calendar which includes a public hearing on June 10.
- Approved a draft application for a new senior scholarship.
- Heard an update on Briarcliff Pool. Board member Kari Hollander, who is also president of Friends of Rainier Pool, said as the high school swim season wraps up, the group will start doing bigger fundraisers to eventually open the pool to the community again.
The next Rainier School Board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 9.