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Susanne Smith, (503) 947-5637

July 2, 2009

Susan Castillo Statement on Final K-12 Budget for the 2009-11 Biennium

On Monday, June 29th the 75th Oregon Legislative Assembly adjourned Sine Die. This Session proved to be one of the most challenging in Oregon’s history as we face an unprecedented economic downturn, record high levels of unemployment, and a $4-plus billion dollar shortfall to fund critical state services like education, health care, and public safety.

Our economic decline forced the legislature to make difficult budget decisions, and in some cases budget reductions, to K-12 education programs. Oregon’s Constitution requires a balanced budget and in order to meet this obligation the Legislature cut $2 billion dollars from the budget, spent federal stimulus dollars, used state reserve and rainy day funds, and passed targeted tax increases.

We have all known for quite some time that we would need to tighten our belts during the next two years in order to weather this recession. I am keenly aware of the painful budget decisions that many of our local school districts have had to make. I have also read of numerous stories about our teachers and classified staff agreeing to pay freezes, pay reductions, or even agreeing to work for free in order to keep our school doors open. I continue to be amazed at the sacrifices that are made for Oregon’s schoolchildren.

My staff at the Department of Education have been taking the necessary steps to prepare for staff reductions here at the agency. Even in these difficult economic times, ODE will continue to be a resource for our schools. It will take an extraordinary effort, and in some cases a little extra patience, but I am confident that we can continue to make progress on some of our most important work because the schoolchildren of Oregon deserve our best work everyday.

I want to share a few of the key budget numbers for the upcoming biennium. The State School Fund will provide $6.0 billion dollars for schools during the next two years. Specifically, the legislation provides $5.8 billion for schools with an additional “trigger” of $200 million dollars available in the 2010-2011 school year once a set of economic conditions are met. The yearly allocation is set at 49 percent for the 2009-2010 school year and 51 percent for the 2010-2011 school year.

Oregon Pre-Kindergarten (Head Start) received full funding for the next two years. The Legislature also added back $5 million for new teacher and administrator mentoring, $500,000 for PE grants, $500,000 for school service organizations like Future Farmers of America, and preserved the Oregon Virtual School District before the Session ended.

Although the budgets are not perfect, I want to commend Senate President Peter Courtney, House Speaker Dave Hunt, Ways and Means Co-Chair Senator Margaret Carter, Ways and Means Co-Chair Representative Peter Buckley, and our legislators for prioritizing the K-12 budget, special education programs, and early childhood education programs that serve Oregon’s most vulnerable children.

I also want to take a moment and acknowledge all of the efforts of organizations like OSBA, COSA, OSEA, OEA, Oregon PTA, Stand for Children, Chalkboard Project, and the thousands of parents and education advocates who made their voices heard on the importance of protecting the K-12 budget from draconian cuts.

In the coming weeks we will share more detailed information about the K-12 budget and funding for education related programs. My staff will also be compiling a comprehensive analysis of K-12 related education bills from the 2009 Session for your reference. In the meantime, if you have budget questions or a question about a specific bill that passed, please contact ODE’s Legislative Director Morgan Allen at 503-947-5920.

Thank you for the work you do in our schools. As always, I encourage you to contact my office if you need any additional information.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Morgan Allen, Communications & Legislative Director, Telephone (503) 947-5737

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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Oregon Department of Education
Voice: 503-947-5600
Fax: 503-378-5156
255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203

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