Oregon school districts are beginning to draw up preliminary budgets for next school year, with less certainty than usual. Portland Public Schools officials say they could have a $22 million budget gap.
And the gap could be much bigger, if the governor is unable to pass changes to the Public Employees Retirement System.
David Wynde, who chaired the Portland School Board before becoming the district’s budget director, says Oregon schools frequently plan budgets while waiting for lawmakers to pass a state-spending plan. Wynde noted that potential PERS changes could trigger a lawsuit.
"Then there’s the additional complication of 'what happens to those PERS changes, and then they’re referred to the courts.' What we’ve been advised is that it will not be until 2017 that the outcome of that challenge will be known," Wynde said.
Other districts are looking at deep budget cuts, too. Salem-Keizer officials anticipate at least a $30 million gap. Formal budget proposals generally come out in the spring.