Superintendent Maria Delapoer to the Albany school district’s budget committee: Yes, the news is still just as bad.

On the bright side, however, Albany Options School has received a grant that may cover its operations for the next three years.

Delapoer gave her 2011-12 budget message Wednesday to the committee, which will hold a forum for public input at its next meeting, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the district office, 718 Seventh Ave. S.W.

The proposed general fund is $72,447,180, up from $71,338,668 this year. Most of the increase comes from the district’s $3 million in additional payments to the Public Employees Retirement System.

The school district is facing a deficit of about $6.5 million this next year and $7.4 million the following year.

To make up the first amount, Delapoer plans to merge Fir Grove School with Oak Grove and Fairmount School with North Albany Elementary, cut a net 15.8 teaching and 1.6 administrative positions, reduce classified hours by 5 percent, reduce high school athletics by $50,000 and negotiate with the unions for another $2 million in wage concessions.

If negotiations fall through, Delapoer said, the plan is to continue with the reductions as presented until further budget needs must be addressed. At that point, the board would have to decide whether to use more reserves or form a new plan.

The 2011-12 budget also assumes using $1.4 million of reserves, reducing building funds by 5 percent on top of the 5 percent they were cut this year, and putting off buying new science books.

In past meetings, Delapoer has outlined additional suggestions for the following year’s deficit, including a possible four-day work week and closing Albany Options School. The schedule change is still being explored, but the grant should cover for the alternative school, she said.

The entire budget is available online at the district’s website, www.albany.k12.or.us.

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