The majority of funds received from the State of Oregon come from the State School Fund for school operations. This money goes into the district’s general fund to support operational costs like teacher and staff wages, benefits, utilities, supplies, etc. Salem-Keizer’s general fund for 2017-18 is about $479.5 million. The bond package slated for the May 15, 2018 ballot, as approved by the School Board, is $619.7 million. The State of Oregon does not provide funding for major capital construction projects.
The Community Facilities Task Force studied all the methods of raising funds that are available to the district and determined that a general obligation bond is the only one that can provide the amount of funding needed. This is not uncommon; Communities in Oregon are largely responsible for funding the capital construction needs of their schools. However, the State has recently implemented a “matching” grant program for capital costs. When voters in a district pass a bond, the district can apply to the state for a matching grant up to a maximum of $8 million. Salem-Keizer has applied for this grant and should voters pass the bond, the district will receive $8 million from the state to put toward construction costs.