SALEM - A bill that would help Morrow County Schools passed the state House by a wide margin Tuesday.
House Bill 2533A is specifically designed to assist four schools across the state that have lost enrollment since 1999. It would allow them to qualify for "small high school" status under the state school funding formula. Under this status, the Morrow County School District is eligible for $430,000 in additional state funds, or an extra $5,733 per student.
"Small school funding will make a positive difference for Riverside High students," said Morrow County School District Superintendent Mark Burrows in a press release. "Currently, we are faced with a choice between offering a full curriculum with arts and technical classes or providing remedial extension classes for our struggling low-income and minority students. The weighted funding will allow us to provide both."
Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, said the legislature decided to give extra funds to a very narrow category of high schools - those that had not changed location since 1995, and were designated "small schools" as of July 1, 2009. Only four school districts in Oregon had schools that qualified - Junction City, Coos Bay, Pleasant Hill and Morrow County.
Riverside High School qualified because of its dramatic drop in enrollment after Irrigon students began attending Irrigon Junior/Senior High School.
The funds are designated through the school equalization formula.
Smith said other small schools in Eastern Oregon, such as Ione and Heppner, did not qualify because they did not see the dramatic drop in enrollment that Riverside did. However, the Morrow County School District can use the money any way it chooses, Smith added.
Smith said the extra funds will come out of the state's general fund.
"For Morrow County, this is a huge boon to their operating budget," he said.