Picture every school child in Oregon with a backpack stuffed with new money for their classrooms. How much more would it take to improve their schools and boost their learning? $500 per student? $1,000? $1,500?
How about $1,800? That's the amount of new money per student that will flow to K-12 districts from state and local taxpayers in this school year and next. (Exact amounts will not be known until districts complete their counts. But, based on my calculations and those of state analysts, the average increase is likely to exceed $1,800 per student statewide, or about 12 percent, over the 2013-2015 biennium compared to the 2011-2013 biennium.)
These new dollars represent the largest infusion of additional funding for schools since this year's high school seniors entered kindergarten. Yet a common complaint at school board meetings and at teacher bargaining tables around the state is that this new money is still not enough to restore all the school days and programs we've lost, do right by teachers and reduce class sizes to manageable numbers.
Tim Nesbitt writes on public affairs, has served as an adviser to Govs. Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, and is past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He writes an opinion column for The Oregonian on Wednesdays. This column was originally posted to OregonLive.com on December 18, 2013 and can be found in its entirety here.
- Finance and Accountability