WOULD MANNIX'S PLAN SHORTEN SCHOOL YEAR?
Republican Kevin Mannix's plan to balance the state budget represents a $450 million hit to public schools, which could result in shortening the school year by 30 days, according to a statement from Oregon House Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley of Portland.
"This is smoke and mirrors, plain and simple," Merkley said in a memo to his House Democratic colleagues dated Dec. 9. While Mannix reportedly proposes freezing compensation for all state workers, he's really talking about public school teachers, Merkley said. "But [Mannix] ignores the fact that teachers' contracts are already in place. Thus, his 'savings' can come only by cutting classrooms and schools — a callous disregard for Oregon's schoolchildren."
A cut of $450 million to schools is equivalent to shortening the school year by 30 days, Merkley figures.
Mannix also proposes to "save" $150 million in PERS costs, but Merkley said the current appropriation to K-12 schools has already accounted for reduced PERS rates. "To save an additional $150 million would require deep cuts to school programs," Merkley said.
Mannix's proposal to lower academic standards and eliminate testing could jeopardize $400 million in federal aid to Oregon schools under the No Child Left Behind Program, Merkley warned. "A reckless rewrite of state education policy during a special session could jeopardize hundreds of millions in federal help to K-12 education in Oregon," Merkley said.