Grants Pass, Ore. — School districts across the state are taking a look at how the governor’s proposed budget could impact students.
Oregon’s legislature is continuing to debate the governor’s proposed budget. To keep the conversation going and keep families informed, school districts like Grants Pass are starting an education campaign of their own.
Grants Pass’ poster paints a bleak picture especially if there are cuts. The district is already tight on funds and facing expenses like PERS.
“On top of our regular employee expenses. So that is a huge amount of money and we’re looking at that type of an increase for at least the next three biennium,” said Sherry Ely. Ely is the Director of Business Services for the Grants Pass School District. She’s behind the district’s effort to join Oregon Living’s public outreach campaign. The campaign creates posters showing how budget decisions could impact local classrooms.
Grants pass school district will pay $1.5 million out of its budget for PERS. Starting in July, which could equally buy several upgrades for Grants Pass schools.
“New roofs on buildings, and making upgrades to the interior of the facilities,” she said.
The expenses don’t stop there. In the long term, the school district has until 2025 to upgrade all school buses to meet new EPA regulations.
“For us, we have about 45 big buses, those are the ones that transport over 70 students. Each of those buses is between 130 and 140 thousand dollars,” she said.
Ely said it’s time to do what needs to be done to protect school funding.
“It needs to be a holistic picture when they look at how funding happens from the state level,” she said.
Part of that includes improving state-wide dialogue, so everyone is heard.
“There’s just so much competition at the state-level for each of these pockets of money. When you think about it, it really shouldn’t be that way – it shouldn’t be us all fighting for our little area,” she said.
Another Southern Oregon school district to join the campaign includes Klamath Falls.
Right now, Oregon is facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Earlier this year, the state’s top budget writers revealed what the budget could look like without new revenue. It includes $7.8 billion or a 3% cut for K-12 education, and a 1% cut to universities.