For immediate release
contact Susanne Smith, 503-947-5637
June 2, 2011
Superintendent Castillo Statement Regarding Oregon Department of Education Budget
State Superintendent Castillo today released the following statement:
SALEM – “Today I received the legislature’s budget for the Oregon Department of Education. We knew the cuts would be deep, but this budget represents a 25% reduction below current service levels and makes specific cuts to programs and services that will directly impact our students and schools.
“While I understand the difficult position the legislature was under to create a state budget in these tough times, I have very real concerns about what this budget will mean for our students.
“We are asking more of our kids today than ever before. We have raised the bar and asked our students and schools to rise to the challenge. We need to be providing our students with all of the supports and opportunities possible to reach this higher bar. And we need to be providing our districts and schools with the tools to better support student achievement. Unfortunately, this budget moves us in the opposite direction.
“In this budget, the legislature has suspended the writing assessment at 4th and 7th grades and has limited the high school writing test to one opportunity in the 11th grade. This will result in a significant cost shift to districts at a time when they can least afford it and will result in fewer opportunities for our students to demonstrate their mastery of writing. We know that writing is a key predictor of college and career success, and starting in 2013 all students will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in writing in order to meet new graduation requirements. These cuts to the writing assessment mean that we are making it harder for students to earn a high school diploma. Because of this reduction, we will need to ask more of our districts and schools in order to provide the supports and opportunities critical to student success.
“I am also concerned about the proposal to defer the needed maintenance to the Oregon School for the Deaf. At a minimum, we need to complete roof repairs and replace the carpeting prior to the next school year. It is essential that we provide our students with a safe learning and living environment, and these critical repairs can easily be addressed with a portion of the existing proceeds from the sale of the Oregon School for the Blind. I will continue to fight to get the authority to use these funds and address these critical repairs.
“Other cuts required in this budget will impact our ability as an agency to support teachers and schools, answer the questions or complaints of parents and community members, and provide critical information to Oregon tax payers about our schools. We will no longer be able to conduct state-level standard setting for the Arts, PE, or Health, and there will be fewer staff available to provide assistance to teachers and schools.
“I have met regularly with members of legislative leadership throughout this session to advocate for education funding. And while our K-12 budget was not everything we would have hoped for, given the current economic climate it could have been much worse. However, my fear is that the significant cuts to the Oregon Department of Education agency budget will put a further strain on school districts already trying to cope with their own reductions. The work of the Department of Education is intimately connected with the work of our schools and cuts to the agency will hurt our schools and our students. I will continue to advocate for adequate and stable funding of our education system at all levels. And I will continue to work with my partners throughout the state to achieve the best possible outcomes for Oregon students.
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