School Funding, or "Why we don’t have “X” in Parkrose?"

If you’ve read some of my other posts you know that funding schools is important to me. One of my reasons for getting involved on school board in the first place was that I wanted to know why school was different today than when I was a kid. Why are we missing PE, art and other vital pieces?

Well in Parkrose, as in many other districts, it comes down to funding, and there’s a lot of background to take in.

What I learned in my three and a half years on the board is that Oregon has a structural and chronic issue - underfunding schools.

Two ballot measures, passed by voters in the 1990’s, Measure 5 and Measure 50, changed the way property taxes are assessed and how much money the state can raise for schools. Oregon is also an equalization state, meaning local property taxes don’t go directly to the local school, they go into a big pool called the State School Fund, and are then allocated to districts via the School Funding Formula. I’ve posted some other articles on this page with deeper background.

Let’s just look at the last 12 years, 2007-2019 in Parkrose. When the recession hit in 2008 the State of Oregon raised less revenue, the State School Fund shrank and less money was given back to schools. Schools were forced to cut staff, programs and school days. A lot of staff, days and programs. This included Parkrose. In fact if you look back at 2007 funding and staffing levels in Parkrose you’ll see that over that same 12 year period Parkrose has been forced to cut approximately 20% of our budget and staff and over 30 days of school.

Put another way the district’s budget is 20% down from where it would have been had budgets remained steady from 2007 levels going forward.

A little rough math. Our current General Fund budget is about $36 million. Twenty percent of $36 million is $7.2 million.

Today if we had that “missing” $7.2 million we would have PE and librarians at all schools. We would have art, more electives and language classes at the high school. We would have additional emotional and behavior supports, like more councilors at our middle school. We would have more teachers and education assistants.

I will fight for funding for our schools. Lack of funding is the root of the issue in Parkrose.

In Parkrose we continue to do a lot with a little, we have amazing staff from the top down.

Right now the state legislature is determining the budget for the next two years. Schools are looking at cuts, again. In Parkrose that could be up to $5 million in cuts over the two year period.

At the same time the legislature is proposing a future “investment” package for schools called the Student Success Act 2019, with a dedicated revenue source.

That’s why I’m out testifying, advocating and meeting with legislators to tell the Parkrose story.

Please join me in fighting for our kids and schools. Contact your state senator and representative and let them know you support fully funding schools.

It’s a lot to take in and what I’ve outlined is only the tip of the iceberg. Please let me know questions or thoughts you have on this topic. Getting the resources our kids and teachers need to be successful is my number one issue.

Dave Shaut