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School districts weigh grand bargain effect for local schools

An estimated $300,000 in additional revenue could help ease overcrowding


JupeOregon legislators passed a package of bills known as the “grand bargain” during a special session last week that included House Bill 5101, which will allocate about $100 million to schools in the state according to the Oregon Department of Education.

Overall, the bill allocates more than $200 million. The funds that do not go toward education will be targeted for mental health care and services for seniors.

Stephen Jupe, Scappoose School District superintendent, estimated the legislative deal could mean about $300,000 in additional revenue for Scappoose School District.

Janine Salisbury, business manager with the St. Helens School District, said the district expects $450,000 in additional revenue next year as part of the $100 million allocated to education during the special session. “If it weren’t for the special session, our increased revenue would only be about $25,000 more,” Salisbury wrote, “Therefore, the special session is expected to give us about $450,000.”

Jupe said, at this point, what the Scappoose School District does with its additional money is up in the air, though he speculated the funds would be used to add teaching staff.

“We would look at whatever we could to ease overcrowding or reduce numbers in any building or area,” Jupe said. “What we end up doing will depend on all sorts of factors. We’re speculating.”

“It’s really nice,” Jupe continued. “It does take some of the pressure off, but it’s certainly not obvious what’s going to happen.”

Jupe said the late passage of the bill to allocate money to schools could cause problems when budgeting for future years.

“This money is all coming in the second year [of the biennium] because of the timing of the bill,” Jupe said. “That amount would be taken into account from the baseline by which to calculate the next biennium’s funding.”

“If we get that funding for 2014-2015, they’ll calculate based on that for the next biennium. We’ve learned that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to happen,” he said.

Since budgets are calculated by using a base outlined by how schools are funded in the year prior, potentially only half of the speculated $300,000 would be calculated in the baseline, Jupe said.

“If that’s the case, the $300,000 may only be counted as $150,000,” Jupe said. “That would work against us.”