President Joe Biden's stimulus package aims to provide a major boost — and big bucks — to Oregon school districts as they struggle to reopen safely.
While some may be focused on the $1,400 direct stimulus payments that will land in most individuals' wallets as part of the proposed American Rescue Plan, the gigantic $1.6 trillion package also would offer hundreds of millions of dollars to local schools.
Budget resolutions have passed both the House and Senate, but in mismatched form, and therefore the plan must undergo a budget reconciliation process before the 600-page bill lands on Biden's desk.
"We're all eager to get students back in the classroom as soon as possible," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland. "These funds are essential to providing school districts the tools and resources they need to keep kids, teachers and support staff healthy in the process. It's yet another reason why we must pass the American Rescue Plan."
Portland Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, would be the top-line recipient, with a proposed payment of $74.1 million, according to a new assessment from the Congressional Research Service — but many other districts stand to gain as well.
• On the west side, Beaverton School District would net $50.4 million, and Hillsboro School District would get $27 million.
• In East Multnomah County, Gresham-Barlow would get $20.8 million, Centennial would receive $17.2 million, Parkrose would pocket $6.7 million, and the tiny Corbett district would get $500,000.
• In Clackamas County, the North Clackamas District would get $16.7 million, the Oregon Trail District in Sandy would get $3.5 million, while Estacada School District would receive $1.9 million.
• St. Helens School District is in line for $4.6 million, Newberg School District would get $5.7 million, and Scappoose would get $1.7 million. Riverdale School District would net $100,000.
Those number could be tweaked as the legislation is finalized, however.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who chairs the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, said the money can be used to purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and increase ventilation, among other things, in order to bolster in-person education during an age of illness.
"Some schools in Northwest Oregon have been able to reopen, but many have not," said Bonamici, who represents much of the metro area's west side. "We all want students and educators back in schools, but they need resources to make sure everyone is safe."
The House Budget Committee is expected to pass the American Rescue Plan on Monday, Feb. 22, with a full vote from the U.S. House tentatively set for later in the week.
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