Lake Oswego School District anticipates hard financial times
The May economic and revenue forecast — which is released from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis May 20 — will paint a picture of just how much the financial downturn of COVID-19 will affect Lake Oswego School District.
To prepare, district and school leaders are creating three financial plans that include 5%, 10% and 15% reduction levels for the 2020-2021 budget.
"School districts are inherently a people business; as such, the majority of our budget is spent on staffing," Superintendent Lora de la Cruz said in a letter to the LOSD community. "We will be making every effort to protect staff to the greatest extent possible."
She said the district is making adjustments in the current year to save jobs and services for next year.
Current estimated reductions to state revenue are between $1 billion to $3 billion before reserves and fund balances. The state is estimating a potential budget reduction of $1.7 billion — approximately 8.5% of its biennial appropriations.
De la Cruz said applying that 8.5% to LOSD has the district looking at a potential estimated reduction in regular state revenues of up to $7 million.
She noted that unlike previous recessions the state has a rainy day fund of roughly $1.5
billion that — with legislative action — could help temper the effect of declines in state revenues. The district has also built a fund of its own, which is anticipated to be at approximately $14 million at the end of this fiscal year.
Funding for the Student Investment Account, created by the Student Success Act, will likely be affected by Oregon's economic situation. "At this time, we do not know how much, if any, of the SIA we may now realize since this funding comes from the new Corporate Activity Tax, and whether it can be used to offset regular state funding reductions," de la Cruz said.
She noted that LOSD is fortunate to have additional funding sources. The Learning Levy along with the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation make up over 15% of the LOSD general fund — helping LOSD to retain more than 100 teachers and staff.
"We do not expect a decline in either of these additional funding sources, at least not
for the 2020-21 school year," she said.
The 2017 Capital Investment Bond must be used for building infrastructure and technology projects, as promised to voters, and cannot be used to aid the general fund. De la Cruz said bond projects are continuing despite the pandemic.
Though the district is preparing for the worst, it may not have enough information to implement reductions to balance the 2020-2021 budget until summer or early fall.
De la Cruz said she will be sharing regular updates with the LOSD community on this topic.
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