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This year's budget is subject to change depending on the level of state funding

The Newberg School District board of directors has approved the district's budget for the 2020-2021 school year. The total adopted budget amounts to roughly $83 million, but is subject to change given the uncertain impact COVID-19 will have on state education funding.

Board chairwoman Brandy Penner and her colleagues took input from the community on June 23 before approving the number, but she said plenty of financial uncertainty remains because of the pandemic.

"It is a bit of a tentative budget in a way because there is so much uncertainty around state funding of education due to the virus and everything," Penner said. "Unless the legislative body is able to meet this summer and is able to use general reserve funds to pad out the difference from the state education budget, we are looking at some pretty significant cuts. In that case, we would have to rebuild the budget with those numbers."

The school board had to officially adopt the budget by the end of June to meet legal requirements for starting the district's fiscal year on July 1. Allocated in the budget is roughly $58 million in the general fund for instruction, support and community services; around $12 million in state and federal grants; $495,000 in the capital projects fund and nearly $7 million in the debt services fund.

Property taxes imposed on school district residents under this budget will amount to roughly $4.66 per $1,000 of assessed value on a person's home, according to the district's budget proposal. Assessed value is around 60 percent of the real market value of a home and the average home in Newberg has a real market value of $396,791, according to the real estate website Zillow, so the average assessed value of a home in Newberg is around $238,000.

At $4.66 per $1,000 of assessed value, Newberg residents can expect to pay an average of $1,109 in property taxes this fiscal year to help pay for this budget.

While the budget is approved and the district will proceed under the assumption that it won't change, there still exists a possibility that it could fluctuate slightly or even significantly. Penner and other district officials are keeping in contact with state legislators and the governor's office to make sure state education funding will still fall around the $9 billion mark promised by the recently passed Student Success Act.

"I'm optimistic," Penner said. "In the early stages of the pandemic, when the governor first came out with the losses in revenue for this current biennium and the next two after that, it was pretty bleak. I think what got most people worried in the education world was the idea that, after so much time and effort getting the Student Success Act passed, that it would be lost to the virus. The vibe I'm getting from entities at the state is that the Legislature and governor are likely to take money from the state's reserve fund to fill in the gaps in education funding, but until the check clears, I don't think we know anything for sure."

Budget priorities for the district, Penner said, include professional development, developing new curriculum in math and science, strengthening Career and Technical Education programs and realigning staff to create more community engagement. The board also has to consider the possibility of a new school bond, which the district has discussed possibly putting on the ballot this fall.

"A big concern of the board's is that the bond package, if we go forward with it, reflects our needs at this time," Penner said. "When you apply the impact of COVID-19 to our overall budget, you know there will be extra costs here and there with cleaning, transportation, classrooms. And we don't know what the funding from the state will look like in the future during the pandemic."

The school board is continuing to meet via Zoom during the era of social distancing and encourages the public to keep up with its agendas and minutes while providing public comment on issues that matter to the community. For more information on previous meetings as well as upcoming ones, visit the "school board" page under the "district" dropdown at www.Newberg.k12.or.us.


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