NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Oregon Schools End Year Early

May 28, 2003

School districts across the country have been wrestling with budget deficits and the need to pare operations to save scarce financial resources. But only in Oregon -- where there are no sales taxes to compensate for declining income tax revenues -- has the recession closed schools earlier in the year than scheduled.

  • Lack of money has closed 84 of Oregon's 198 school districts.
  • Six other districts cut days from their schedule, but not from the end of the school year.
  • Authorities in the Hillsboro school district report that each school day costs about $400,000 -- 87 percent of which goes to salaries.

Some national experts accuse unions and other special interest groups of exaggerating the financial plight of the nation's schools -- as well as the consequences of shutting schools early.

"The sky is not falling," James Guthrie, a professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University, said. "As a nation we've lengthened the school year, and nobody can see that achievement has gone up. Twenty years ago the school year was, on average, 170 days long, and now it has risen to 180 days. But I haven't seen any startling increases in student achievement in that period."

Source: Sam Dillon, "Out of Money, Oregon Schools End Year Early," New York Times, May 24, 2003.  


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