We have a five member board and currently have only two budget committee members available to participate. How do we proceed if we cannot fill the other three positions? Would we consider that if we have seven members, half would be four to approve any motion?

That is a great question, particularly because it can be difficult to fill all the appointed seats on a budget committee for many districts. (For convenience, the term "budget committee" in this answer refers to the whole of the School Board itself, and the appointed members of the public that serve as well.)

Thankfully, and this is so rarely the case, the law actually understands this reality. As a result, the budget committee laws provide that if you are not able to fill every seat, the budget committee simply proceeds in its normal process with the individuals that you were able to get to volunteer sitting in the appointed seats. The law even goes so far as to say that "if there are no electors willing to serve [on the appointed budget committee seats], the governing body shall be the budget committee." ORS § 294.414(2).

In response to your second question regarding what is needed to approve a motion, the answer is a little more vague as there is no explicit answer in the law. While quorums and majorities of school boards themselves are pretty easy to figure out, because there is a statute that explicitly states if you have a five member board, three is a quorum, and if seven, then four is a quorum. In contrast to this, there is no such provision in regard to budget committees. However, as discussed above, the law acknowledges and allows budget committees to proceed with whatever number of people you can get to volunteer on the budget committee. It logically results from this that a simple majority of whatever total number of individuals serving on the committee will be sufficient to transact any business and approve the necessary budget documents.

For more information on this question, Ask Betsy’s Team or join us for our Budget Committee Basics webinar. To view the webinar click here, scroll to the bottom.

For more information on this question, Ask Betsy's Team.