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OC schools investing in students' future

The Oregon City School Board developed a budget for 2013-14 that focuses our resources on our classrooms. We are protecting our existing academic program while making critical investments to ensure that we continue to make gains toward meeting our goal to graduate every student with a diploma that prepares them for career, college and life.

40/40/20

The Class of 2025 just finished kindergarten. The state set an aspirational goal to graduate 100 percent of Oregon’s students beginning in 2025. Often referred to as “40-40-20,” Governor Kitzhaber set forth a vision for the state: By 2025, 20 percent of all Oregon students will earn only a high school diploma, 40 percent will go on for additional career certificate or two-year post-secondary program, and 40 percent will earn a four-year college degree or higher. Currently in Oregon, 42 percent earn no more than a high school diploma, 18 percent go on for post-secondary and 30 percent receive a BA or higher. We have an ambitious road ahead, and the 2013-14 budget was developed with this in mind.

Participation & Partnership

In a series of community conversations and Budget Priority Sessions in 2012-13, we worked to develop deeper public understanding of the challenges facing the district and identify our shared priorities to guide budget decisions for the future. After the subsequent painful decision to close two elementary schools and make significant staff reductions last year, the 2013-14 budget development process was guided by a goal to sustain existing core academic programs and supports, including class size and instructional time, while making modest targeted investments.

For the first time in 10 years, state leaders have proposed to increase the share of the state budget that is invested in K-12 education. The School Board based the 2013-14 budget upon the Legislature’s proposal to support Oregon’s K-12 schools with $6.55 billion over the next two years, along with initial savings in public pension costs of $200 million.

Budget Development

A budget is a plan built on forecasts, estimates and assumptions. In November, we began informing staff, association leadership and the community of potential budget challenges. Several potential scenarios were developed, and financial projections and legislative updates were discussed in monthly public budget work sessions.

In April, the School Board adopted a framework for developing the 2013-14 budget. That framework proposed a plan for the 2013-15 biennium that would continue to draw down the district’s ending fund balance, reduce the district’s risk-management fund and require the negotiation of a rollover of existing reductions in contracted work days for all employees. Once again, we thank our employees for continuing to collaborate as partners to help balance this budget. Their sacrifices over the last several years have been enormous, and they are greatly appreciated.

Targeted Investments

The budget maintains current class size and instructional time, while increasing elementary counseling and school safety investments. In addition, the budget supports a full-day kindergarten pilot at Jennings Lodge Elementary School and makes modest investments in updated instructional materials with resources outside of the general fund.

Fortunately, the state’s economy seems to be making a slow but steady recovery, and the governor and Oregon Legislature have signaled their commitment to increase investment in K-12 funding over time. Because the Legislature has not yet finalized its funding level for schools, OC School Board members will likely make revisions through supplemental budget hearings in August. Hopefully, there will be additional resources available to increase instructional time and support effective teaching.

Thank you to our Budget Committee and School Board members for the countless hours dedicated to building a budget plan that reflects our community priorities. We are investing in the future!

Larry Didway is superintendent of the Oregon City School District.




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