Education A State Capitals Roundup

Oregon Districts File School Funding Suit

By Rhea R. Borja — March 28, 2006 1 min read

Six Oregon school districts and three families have sued the state, alleging that Oregon has repeatedly failed to provide adequate and stable funding for K-12 education despite legislation mandating that it do so.

The Coos Bay, Corvallis, Crow-Applegate-Lorane, Eugene, Pendleton, and Three Rivers districts, and three families from Ashland, Hillsboro, and Portland, filed suit on March 21 in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

They cited Measure 1, a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000, which requires the legislature to provide schools with enough money to meet the goals of the Quality Education Model, a rigorous and ambitious state-approved plan.

The model estimates that it would cost $7.1 billion in the state’s biennial budget to reduce class sizes, provide more teacher training, and adopt other school-improvement measures. Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski, a Democrat, has proposed spending $5.3 billion on schools in fiscal 2006 and 2007.

State Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, declined to comment on the lawsuit directly. Sen. Courtney, who is one of the defendants named in the lawsuit, said he hopes that the legislature will send additional funds to schools this year.

Gene Evans, a spokesman for state Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo, said education has suffered budget cuts since 2002, adding he was “surprised” it took as long as it did for a funding lawsuit to be filed.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 29, 2006 edition of Education Week