Letters to The Editor 2/1/2021

Press readers

Time for change
To the editor: Change is needed at the Oregon City School District in regards to the administration and board which have made decisions costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The following events depicts why change is needed:
- The union contracts were negotiated by the superintendent and the treasurer and approved by the school board in May, 2019. The unions gave no concessions but were given raises of 3 percent plus 2 percent step increases for 2020; 2.75 percent plus 2 percent for 2021, and 2.75 percent and 2 percent for 2022.
The administrators and non-union personnel also received pay raises. (This necessitated a levy due to expenses increasing.)
-The board was asked to have a state performance audit prior to a levy being placed on the ballot as there are items from a 2009 performance audit still not resolved. The 2009 audit recommended changes that would result in $6 million in savings, including deleting retirement pick-up benefits.
-The board refused to act on the audit and the levy, which cost $6,307, failed.
There were discussions to place another levy on the ballot and the board attempted to get the unions to give concessions, freeze salaries and drop healthcare for spouses. The superintendent met with the unions and no concessions were given.
- On July 28, 2020, the district announced a targeted permanent reduction of $2.1 million. If this had occurred in 2019 there would have been no need for a levy.
-A Reduction In Force (RIF) was implemented but was mishandled by the administration, resulting in a lawsuit settled on Jan. 12 of this year for $27,900. The RIF was in the union contract approved in May 2019.
A letter by the superintendent concerning spending can be viewed at the school website.
Michael J. Gavioli

Editor’s note: According to Jane Fruth, district treasurer, administrators took a pay freeze in fiscal 2021. The past performance audit was conducted because the district was headed toward fiscal watch stemming from a loss of tangible personal property taxes in 2006.The district closed one building and reconfigured others and a pay freeze, including a step freeze, was put in place.
Spending reductions were also put in place to keep the district off the ballot when the pandemic hit the economy and the state reduced educational funding, resulting in a loss of $642,438 for Oregon schools.
The union lawsuit was settled to avoid further legal fees as the district was headed back for hybrid class sessions anyway. Cost savings from the RIF are still being calculated


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