Forest Grove School District announces staff furloughs
Board members at the Forest Grove School District voted unanimously Monday, May 11, to access state and federal unemployment funds for employees ahead of furloughs.
The decision comes as school districts around the state anticipate substantial budget cuts next year due to the coronavirus' economic impact on state revenue.
In a letter to district families and staff Tuesday, Superintendent Dave Parker said the district will furlough all staff each Friday for the remainder of the school year. The district is working with employee unions to finalize participation in the state's Work Share program to assist furloughed staff, he said.
The program would allow the district to save funds by furloughing all staff each Friday for the remainder of the school year, Parker said. Furloughed staff would then access state unemployment benefits for lost wages and receive weekly $600 unemployment payments through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act.
"This program will assist the district in saving money this school year," Parker said. "The money saved this year will lessen the impact of potential reductions in the 2020-21 school year — protecting more jobs, more school days and more vital programs for students."
The district expects a $2.3 million to $7 million budget cut next year, Parker said.
In an earlier message, Parker said the district will freeze hiring and restrict additional spending.
With distance learning in place, teachers will provide instruction to students Mondays through Thursdays, but staff will not contact students on furloughed Fridays.
Breakfast and lunch distributed to families on Fridays as part of the district's nutritional services will continue as scheduled during the furloughs, said David Warner, spokesman for the district.
Districts around the state are awaiting the state revenue forecast to be released on Wednesday, May 20, for specific details about budget cuts.
Portland Public Schools and the Hillsboro School District have also announced they will similarly furlough staff and access unemployment benefits.
It's unclear how much, if any, funding the district will receive through the Student Investment Account, which was created last year after the passage of the Student Success Act.
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