Supt. Rickert joins in response to governor’s budget

State Superintendent of Education Susan Castillo said,”The governor’s proposed budget dedicates a total of $5.56 million in state funding for Oregon school districts for the 2011-2013 biennium. This funding is drastically lower than the estimated $6.5 billion our schools need to keep up with inflation and maintain the level of current services to students.”

Castillo went on to say she strongly supports the governor’s focus on steady and sustainable fun ding for education and will serve on the Governor’s Education Investment board.

“We know Oregon K-12 must do better with less. We can no longer make minor adjustments. The days of bandaids and short-term fixes are over,” said Castillo.

“I’m disappointed for a lot of reasons,” said District 9 Superintendent Cynda Rickert. “Putting 52 percent at the front end (first year of biennium) appears good but not really because in the second year we are down to 48 percent.”

Rickert said COSA (superintendents group from around the state) pointed out that historically the legislature has a tendency to fund at the last level, that would be 48 percent.

“It is like delaying the in evitable. The more we put off making cut the harder it will be to make them,”said Rickert.    
“I’m disappointed to hear the governor say the shortfall is coming from a lack of federal dollars. Reality is, the shortfall came from the state of Oregon and the feds filled in the gap that the state was unable to fund. When you say to people the shortfall is a federal issue, it is just part of the picture.”

“I think it gives the wrong picture to people who are negotiating. It shouldn’t impact negotiations,”continued the superintendent.

“This is only the governor’s proposed budget, this is only a beginning. I am much more interested in the March forecast that comes out Feb.15. And I am very proud that we haven’t cut days. That is not saying we won’t if our backs are against the wall.  Again, cutting days is only a temporary solution.”

Rickert said right now she is very proud of the entire staff for being so budget conscious.

House Republican Leader Kevin Cameron (r-Salem)said,”The legislature will have $1.2 billion more to spend in 2011-13 than it did in the previous biennium. This will make for an increase, not a reduction, in General Fund spending. We’re pleased the governor recognizes this reality, and is not handing us a budget loaded with tax increases and unrealistic spending proposals.”

Cameron said there will be some respectful disagreement, but he went on to say the House Republicans are committed to passing the 2011-13 K-12 budget midway through the session to allow districts to plans.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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