The state of Oregon won the first round of a court battle over the adequacy of public school funding when a local circuit court judge ruled Sept. 15 that the Oregon Constitution does not require the state legislature to set aside a specific amount of money to pay for public schools.
The ruling is a setback for the 18 school districts and four families that are suing to raise state school aid and ensure the money is more evenly distributed among districts. The group is planning to appeal the decision, which will likely end up before the Oregon Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs are staking a big part of their argument on an amendment added to the constitution by Oregon voters in 2000 that requires the legislature to set aside “sufficient” money so schools can meet education quality goals set in state law.
A 2005 legislative report estimated that the state would need to set aside $7.1 billion for schools a year to meet its education quality goals, up from the $5.3 billion Oregon spends now.
A version of this article appeared in the September 27, 2006 edition of Education Week