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Wide range of options on table for state school funding

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 6th, 2013

South Lane and other Oregon school districts could face another round of punishing budget cuts for the 2013-14 biennium. Or, the state legislature could find a way to increase the funding level for Oregon schools to one that would allow reinvestment in the classroom. Options that exist between the worst and best-case scenario could also be possible, options that would involve either less severe budget cuts or a stable budget that would not necessitate reductions.

Such is the current climate for school funding in this state, a climate described by South Lane Superintendent Krista Parent to members of the South Lane School Board and the audience at the Board’s Monday night meeting.

Parent used a handout prepared by a coalition of the Oregon Education Association, Oregon School Boards Association and other groups that includes a basic analysis of the state budget situation as it relates to education. The handout describes the $6.15 billion State School Fund number proposed by Governor John Kitzhaber as a “crisis budget.”

The Governor’s budget, if adopted, would force SLSD to trim about $1.28 million from its biennium budget by the end of June.

On Monday, Senator Richard Devlin and Representative Peter Buckley, the co-chairs of the State’s Ways and Means Committee, released another proposed budget that allocates $6.550 billion to Oregon schools. This budget would necessitate about $355,000 in cuts locally. Some state legislators have vowed to find a way to fund schools at $6.75 billion, which would actually put SLSD in the black by about $110,000. A fourth option, a State School Fund number of $6.895 billion, would likely allow the District to add back teachers and possibly fund a full school year for the first time in years. In this, a legislative year, lawmakers will fight it out amongst themselves to make these difficult decisions.

Parent added that other factors may come into play that could affect the District’s eventual budget numbers. Some legislators have pledged a reduction in funding for the Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS, that could trim about $500,000 in obligations from the district budget, according to Parent’s calculations. Budget cuts brought on by the recent sequestration of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. would mean about $346,184 must be cut from programs like IDEA and Title I that assist students with disabilities or other learning disadvantages.

For the complete article see the 03-06-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-06-2013 paper.

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