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Schools to get funding dollars
$120M in funds to be distributed to nearly 60 districts to aid students in poverty
PORTLAND — Starting this fall, Oregon will use a new, more accurate way to divvy up more than $120 million in yearly state funding to serve students in poverty.
Nearly 60 districts where childhood poverty has risen in the past decade will receive a boost in state funding of 1 percent to 7 percent. Those range from Redmond, which will get an additional $2 million, and Tigard-Tualatin, which will get an extra $1 million, to Joseph, where a $170,000 increase will represent a 7 percent boost in state funding.
Most of the state’s nearly 200 school districts will see only a small change. But 15 mostly small rural districts will see their funding drop by 1 or 2 percent.
The change in funding method, approved unanimously by the Oregon Board of Education, is designed to better pinpoint where poor children go to school.
For years, including for this school year, the state used out-of-date 2000 Census data to determine childhood poverty rates in different parts of Oregon. Oregon has many more children in poverty now than it did in 2000 and, in many cases, they are concentrated in different places than they were back then.
The method that will be used in coming school years instead relies on annual U.S. Census Bureau poverty estimates for each school district that draw on data from the American Community Survey and Internal Revenue Service.
Some school district officials and state board members expressed concern about an abrupt one-year reduction in some districts’ budgets and discussed a potential phase-in of the new method.
But the board ultimately rejected that option, as state schools chief Rob Saxton urged.
“It comes down to: How are we serving children? Right now, we are serving those students with 13-year-old data,” Saxton said. “We have districts that are getting extra money to serve students they don’t have, and we are taking it from districts that need to serve children in poverty. It’s time for us to stop.”
Oregon’s largest school district, Portland, will see its funding drop a tiny fraction, by $350,000, because its count of children living below the poverty line has not grown much since 2000.
But the next three largest districts, Salem-Keizer, Beaverton and Hillsboro, all will see their funding rise.