A Calamitous Future for Oregon Schools Has Been Painted by District Superintendents

A calamitous future facing Oregon schools has been painted by the superintendents of four school districts. Hundreds of people will lose their jobs, while severe funding cutbacks will impact the ability of schools to cope with increased student enrollments and fewer teachers.


Funding Formula Must be Reevaluated by the Oregon Department of Education

A video, appealing to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to reevaluate its funding formula, has been released by the superintendents of four school districts – Steve Cook of Bend-LaPine, Bret Champion of Medford, Andrea Castaneda of Salem-Keizer, and Sandy Husk of Portland. Their stories paint a grim picture for the future of education in the state.

This year, Salem-Keizer schools face a $70 million cutback in funding and the loss of more than 400 positions. Superintendent Andrea Castaneda describes the situation as devastating and heartbreaking.

She said that while the joint appeal by the superintendents is not being used to levy blame: “We urgently need support and attention, conviction and courage to look carefully at our state’s funding formula and to protect what matters most in our communities – our schools and our young people who are at the heart of what happens next in Oregon.”  

Bend-LaPine superintendent, Steve Cook, says the budget cuts are painful, and will result in the loss of nearly 200 positions, and a budget cut of $21 million over the next two years. Cook estimates that enrollments will increase by four students per class, while staffing will be cut by an overall 10%.

“Let’s work together to reconsider our investment in public education,” is his appeal to the ODE.

Medford superintendent, Bret Champion, says the district will suffer a $15 million cutback over the next two years, with an average of 32.5 positions lost.

Champion described the budget cuts as ‘agonizing’ and said their impact would be ‘felt deeply’ by district students. “Reductions will mean less support for student behavior at some of our highest need elementary schools and not enough space at one of our high schools,” said Champion.

Both Cook and Champion say that when deciding on education funding, the state does not take cost of living increases into consideration, or how expensive it is to live in Oregon.

“We have a crisis brewing in Oregon,” says Sandy Husk, interim superintendent for Portland. She says school districts need to meet the expectations of its communities by providing academic and mental health support so that students thrive. Husk points out that children are the future of Oregon and expresses the hope that solutions can be found.

See also: 19 Ashland School Staffers Lose Their Jobs

See also: 18 Teachers Lose Their Jobs As Medford School District Slashes Budget By $15 Million



The Oregon Quality Education Commission, an offshoot of the state’s Department of Education, is said to have failed to provide sufficient funding to enable schools to offer quality education standards.

Inadequate state funding is one of several factors contributing to the severe budget cuts. Schools have also been impacted by factors such as attrition and inflation.

Ashland school district will lay off about 19 staff at the end of this school year.


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