School district looking at $20 million deficit

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By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

Another deficit projection greeted the Salem-Keizer School District Budget Committee at its first 2012-13 meeting Tuesday.

The 2012-13 deficit, estimated at more than $20.5 million after a $500,000 technology investment that the district administration has considered necessary for maintaining quality of education, represents a much smaller drop in resources than that of the 2011-12 budget, but it means additional cuts in expenses, Mike Wolfe, district chief operating officer, told the committee.

Wolfe distributed charts showing that the share of Oregon’s state budget for kindergarten through 12th-grade education has consistently dropped since the 2003-05 biennium, and that Oregon’s per-student spending has declined compared to the national average.

Percentages of the state budget for total education, followed by those for K-12, were 58.7 and 44.8 for 2003-05, 55.8 and 42.7 for 2005-07, 54.7 and 41.5 for 2007-09, 50.8 and 38.8 for 2009-11 and 51.1 and 39.1 for 2011-13.

Oregon’s per-student spending was 103.7 percent of the national average for the 1997-98 academic year, 92.9 percent for 2007-08 and 90.7 percent for 2008-09.

Superintendent Sandy Husk told the committee that the primary goals of the school system remain having students graduate on time and having them demonstrate proficiency.

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