Forest Grove benefits over biennium, but moneys use up in air

School superintendents in Forest Grove, Banks and Gaston received formal letters from Washington County Commission Chairman Andy Duyck and Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey last week notifying them their districts will be part of a $10 million distribution in Gain Share money over the 2013-15 biennium.

Duyck and Mayor Willey first announced their intention to share a portion of Gain Share funds with schools at a joint press conference June 6. Details about how the money will be divided among the seven Washington County school districts (Banks, Beaverton, Forest Grove, Gaston, Hillsboro, Sherwood and Tigard-Tualatin) were released Monday.

The $5 million annual allocation (in 2013-14 and 2014-15) will be distributed via the per-student “average daily membership” calculation, the standard formula by which the state allocates money to school districts.

Over the next two years,

Forest Grove is due $362,992; Banks will receive $64,888; and Gaston will gain $35,085.

“We intend to distribute the $5 million directly to local districts [this year], not through a process mandated by state law,” the letter stated. “With these assumptions in mind, Washington County intends to electronically transfer Gain Share funds to each school district within a reasonable period after receiving them from the state.”

Forest Grove School Board Chairman John Hayes said he and his colleagues had not had a chance to talk about how to use this year’s Gain Share funds, “mainly because we need to wait to see what enrollment looks like [in 2013-14].

“We’re not expecting any big changes over the budgeted numbers of kids who will show up in September, but one never knows until the time comes.”

Hayes said the board got word about the Gain Share distribution “too late to implement anything new” in terms of programs, but added that “there’s a very long list of things we would like to do to improve education” in the district.

“Assuming that the budget for the year looks solid once the kids show up, we’ll then have a discussion on what to do with the funds.”

Gain Share is money local taxing authorities receive back from the state as a result of tax-abatement agreements with large employers. Through Strategic Investment Program (SIP) agreements, large employers can pay less money in taxes in exchange for significant investments in their physical plants.

Income tax collected from employees who are new to those companies as a result of the investment is held separately by the state — half is kept at the state level and half is returned to local taxing authorities.

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