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Published: Tuesday, 1/12/2010

Property-valuation dip is less than expected in Oregon City Schools

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Property revaluations did not drop as much as expected in Oregon City Schools, although there still will be a reduction of about $435,000 in real estate taxes received annually, school board members were told last week.

While property valuations were expected to decline at least 10 percent overall, the actual drop was about 6.5 percent, said Jane Fruth, district treasurer.

“What has helped Oregon is farm valuation has increased a little bit,” she said during last week's board meeting. “Homeowners may actually see a reduction in their taxes.”

Mrs. Fruth said she will have to update the district's five-year forecast based on actual valuations, not the estimate provided by the Lucas County auditor. Originally, the district had been told valuations would be 20 percent less, although the estimate later improved to 10 percent, she said.

Delinquencies, however, may mean Oregon City Schools will lose even more than $435,000 a year in real estate taxes, Mrs. Fruth said.

“People are struggling to pay their taxes, and delinquency is still a real issue,” she said.

Last year, the financially struggling district had to cut $3.5 million from its annual budget, including laying off about 15 percent of its employees. Current forecasts show the school district is in the black through the 2010-2011 school year but facing a $2.7 million deficit the following year.

Melissa Lammers, president of the Jerusalem Parents Group, told school board members last week one particularly troubling concern for parents after cutbacks is the lack of a full-time principal at Jerusalem Elementary.

Parents fear a lack of consistency for students, staff, and administrators will hurt the quality of education at the school, which shares a principal with another elementary, she said.

District Superintendent Mike Zalar said officials hope the situation with two of the district's elementary schools sharing one principal will be temporary.

“We do acknowledge it's not an ideal situation, and we want to address that in the very near future,” he said.

The school district, meanwhile, is ready to begin its online meal payment program, Mrs. Fruth said. Tests will be run first with district employees, she said.



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