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From: The Gresham Outlook

Residents of the Reynolds School District have a rare chance to offer detailed and direct advice to the people who will decide which programs to cut in the coming school year and which to keep.

The Reynolds district, like all local public school districts, is bracing for yet-another reduction in state spending. Because of the sluggish economy, state revenues in the next biennium are expected to fall $3.5 billion short. When this budget shortfall filters down to the local level, it will produce reductions to K-12 schools totaling well into the millions of dollars.

In Reynolds’ case, that will mean cutbacks in the 2011-12 school year of $4 million to $8 million – which in turn will force the district once again to confront choices between larger class sizes and cuts in programs or services. To gain more public input into these decisions, the Reynolds district has launched a special website (ReynoldsTomorrow.com), which allows members of the public to sign up for an electronic survey.

The intent of the survey is to throw a wider net in gathering public opinion, so that the School Board doesn’t just hear from its most vocal constituents. The majority of people who live within the district don’t have children in school – but those neighbors may have valuable insight into how the district can most effectively spend its money.

The survey won’t make the outcome of these budget problems any more pleasant. Reynolds eliminated 150 teacher and staff positions last year – and now it has to go even deeper. But a greater community dialogue will ensure that all possibilities are considered and that the final decisions won’t be overly influenced by groups with fairly narrow agendas.

Reynolds district residents should take the time now to sign up for the survey by visiting ReynoldsTomorrow.com.