Because we’re in budget season, I’m getting a lot of questions about what number school districts should budget to. Our recommendation is to continue to budget to a State School Fund allocation of $9 billion, exactly as you have been.
This is for a few reasons, but the main one is that although the projected revenue shortfall is big, the actual budget shortfall is probably not as big. We’re still crunching the final numbers, but it looks like a proportional cut to the State School Fund could be somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400 million. That is a lot of money, but the state expects to have more than $1.75 billion in reserves this biennium, including $800 million in the Education Stability Fund. There is clearly a path for the Legislature to prioritize keeping the State School Fund whole, at least for this biennium.
Also, it’s important to budget so that the Legislature knows what cuts to the State School Fund would mean. As you’re budgeting, we’re going to want to know what cuts would look like to your district. How many teachers or days or programs would a reduction translate to? We’re working with the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and the Oregon Association of School Business Officials to get this information prepared so legislators know what cuts really mean.
OSBA Legislative Services recently held a webinar with some of the pertinent numbers and education budgeting strategy.
There are expectations of a special session for COVID-19-related budgets, but no date has been set. As we know more, so will you.
The other big question that we’re hearing has to do with reopening. As most counties have moved into Phase 1 of Brown’s reopening plan, some districts have asked about opening up schools for in-person instruction for some student populations.
It’s totally understandable that some school districts would like to get certain students, especially the most vulnerable and most in need, back into class, but right now that’s not an option for most situations.