by Craig Hawkins, Communications Director
I'm writing to you "real time" today from the OASE Funding Coalition and Off The Record meetings at the Salem Chemeketa Eola Viticulture Center. I'll be updating this blog throughout the day -- and, if you have comments or questions, post them in the comment form below and I'll do my best to respond promptly.
The meeting of the Steering Committee of the Funding Coalition is up first this morning, from 9-11 a.m. The meeting is chaired by OASE Past President Jim Keene, superintendent of Pendleton School District. Here's the Funding Coalition agenda.
The OASE Funding Coalition was created for the purpose of developing a
consensus among superintendents in working with the legislature on
matters of school funding. All superintendents are members of the
Funding Coalition; the 40-member steering committee is representative
of the metro/rural, small/large and geographic makeup of the school
districts in our state.
New steering committee members this year include Ron Wilkinson of
Bend-LaPine, Tom Rinearson of Lincoln County, Robert Dunton of Corbett,
Rob Saxton of Tigard and Walt Blomberg of Woodburn.
First up: background information on the Funding Coalition and school funding from COSA Executive Director Kent Hunsaker.
One background piece is the Investment of School Improvement Funds. This charts shows the percent of SIF funding districts used in each of the allowable areas, as well as the number of districts that chose to expend funds in each of the areas.
Kent also shared the School Revenue Forecast Committee's "Essential Budget Level" estimate for the 2009-11 biennium. In theory, this forecast is supposed to give a good estimate of how much money school districts will need in the next biennium to maintain current programs and services. Unfortunately, the estimate is low -- and would actually result in cuts -- for a majority of Oregon school districts. That's because of discrepancies in the effects of the PERS rates and enrollment decline/growth among school districts, as well as the state's estimate of a 2.2 percent increase in teachers' salaries and less than 2 percent growth in the cost of supplies. The committee's estimate for 2009-11 is $6.573.8 billion (SSF and SIF), up only 5.27% for the biennium.
Kent reported on a recent meeting with the governor attended by a handful education leaders. The governor told the group that education will be a priority in his budget -- and recently reports have said that he may propose roll-up costs ($6.5738 billion) plus $250 million aimed at implementing new diploma requirements in 2009-11. The problem with that approach, of course, is that the roll-up is insufficient for most districts and, in many cases, the potential total of $6.8238 billion won't allow districts to maintain programs and services -- let alone have the funding to implement new diploma requirements.
Kent said, for district planning purposes, he would work with Brian Reeder to provide districts with an estimate of the ADMw (per-student allocation) for each district if the total 2009-11 allocation were $6.8238 billion.
Key OASE school funding priorities include: 1) Truly adequate roll-up costs, and 2) Continued progress toward the Quality Education Model. Inherent in both of those priorities is funding for implementing the new high school diploma above the real costs of roll-up. Other priorities include assessing the level of school facilities needs statewide.
Jim Keene reported that the school funding lawsuit brought by 18 districts and the Oregon School Funding Defense Foundation goes to the Oregon Supreme Court next week.
The next meeting of the Funding Coalition is set for January 30, 2009 at Salishan during the OASE/OACOA Winter Conference.
The Off The Record meeting begins any minute now. The meeting is chaired by OASE President Krista Parent of South Lane School District. Here's the agenda.
Defend Oregon representative Treasure Mackley shared information about the campaigns related to the November ballot measures. The COSA Board has taken a position on several of the measures.
In small groups, the 100-plus superintendents discussed two table questions: 1) Is your district's enrollment increasing or declining compared to projections?, and 2) What are the top policy issues you'd like OASE and COSA to advocate for in 2009?
Enrollment was a real mixed bag - no surprise there. The top policy issues for the group included: 1) adequacy of funding, 2) funding the high school diploma, 3) online learning issues, 4) full-day kindergarten and 5) modified diploma.
COSA Professional Development Director shared information about COSA's program, including the two calendars: the standard professional development calendar, and a COSA college football "helmet calendar." Colin also shared information about deep discounts for COSA members for continuing administrative licensure credits.
Falls City Superintendent Peter Tarzian, an OEBB Board member, presented an OEBB update.
In small groups, the superintendents discussed the table question, "What is your district's greatest challenge in meeting the new diploma requirements?" The answer? There's not one greatest challenge -- there are many?
I reported on the work of the State Reporting/Paperwork Reduction Task Force, which is set to finalize recommendations for streamlining state reporting later this fall.
I also shared the results to date of a recent full-day kindergarten survey. We'll be reporting final results in the near future.
Kent reported on the work of the Funding Coalition's steering committee ealier today.