School districts must wait for state budget

By on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PENDLETON – School districts are waiting to see what will happen with the education budget for the next biennium. They are bound by law to have a budget for the coming year by July 1, but often don’t know what state funding will be coming their way. Pendleton Superintendent Chris Fritsch said the district considers the budget proposed by Gov. Kate Brown as its baseline.

“We always hope that’s the starting point and that it will work to allow us to continue the programs we’re currently providing and hopefully be able to add in some areas of need,” Fritsch said.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee does meet Friday, but the only item on its agenda is to set the committee rules for the 2021 session. It will be a while before the panel digs into the public education budget.

“We always hope that the Legislature can make the budgetary decisions early in the session because that aligns with our calendar and our statutory timelines, but it doesn’t work that way,” Fritsch said.

Fritsch said that the good news for education is it appears the Corporate Activities Tax will be fully funded in the next biennium, unlike in its first year, with the pandemic. That tax is dedicated to public education programs designed to promote student success.