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State budget gives Forest Grove schools slight bump

Latest K-12 financial plan covers cost of full-day kindergarten in 2015-16


The Oregon Senate Monday approved a $7.255 billion budget for the state’s public schools.

“Today we are voting on a budget that will provide stability for our schools and allow districts to prepare for the 2015-2016 school year when we finally offer free full day kindergarten for all Oregon kids,” said Senator Ron Monroe (D-Portland), co-chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education.

A 35-25 vote in the Oregon House last week sent the budget to the Senate.

The state school fund accounts for the lion’s share of operating costs for Oregon’s 197 school districts, ever since voters put statewide limits on local property taxes in the 1990s.

The budgeted amount is about $600 million more than in the current two-year cycle. It includes $220 million to cover costs of full-day kindergarten, which districts are required to start this fall.

The state school fund is the largest single item in the tax-supported general fund and lottery proceeds, which are the most flexible sources for lawmakers. That combined amount for the state budget is about $18.5 billion.

According to a March 23 report from the Oregon Department of Education, Forest Grove schools can expect $6,978 per student in 2015-16, up 1.7 percent; Banks, $6,881, up 2 percent, and Gaston, $6,906, 1.2 percent. The figures are general-purpose grants; transportation allocations are excluded.

The projections were compared with figures in the agency’s Dec. 5 report to school districts.

The budget contains a trigger that earmarks for the school fund 40 percent of any increased income tax collections projected in the state’s next quarterly economic and revenue forecast May 14.

A procession of school district administrators and others told lawmakers in March that the fund’s minimum should be at least $7.5 billion. Among them on March 11 were a delegation from Forest Grove: Superintendent Yvonne Curtis, board chairman John Hayes, student representative Mireya Rosas and Brandon Hundley, principal of Neil Armstrong Middle School.

HB 5017 will now move to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for her consideration.

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