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Think Out Loud

Cutting the Budget

Pete Springer/OPB

Government-funded programs are going through massive cuts in this economic recession, and of course schools are no exception. Oregon schools could receive as little as $5.4 billion over the next two years — $1 billion less than expected. While teachers and administrators prepare to make major cuts, some Oregon lawmakers are talking about giving them even more discretion when taking a scalpel to each budget line.

Currently, school districts are bound by thousands of pages of requirements, everything from reporting the number of hours students spend in P.E. to conducting surveys that determine how ready kindergarteners are for first grade. The state also mandates programs for Talented and Gifted and underachieving students. Meeting all these requirements limits a school district’s flexibility when it comes time to cut the budget. Even spending time filling out reports costs money and — some argue — takes educators’ attention away from individual students.

Frank Morse is sponsoring Senate bill 441 (pdf) that would free up schools from most of these requirements during the 2009-11 school years, but some legislators say that giving local districts this power sets a dangerous precedent.

Are you a teacher bracing for local cuts? How is your school or district being affected? Do you think more discretion would make it easier for you? Are you a parent of a school-aged child? What control would you like your local district to have when deciding what programs or services to cut?


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