Portland (Ore.) Schools to Use $1.5M in Reserves if Arts Tax is Struck Down

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The city of Portland announced late Monday that it would cover two-thirds of the $3 million expected to go to local schools in the first payment if the tax is deemed unconstitutional. The school districts would be responsible for the rest.

The city-wide arts tax -- which costs each qualifying Portlander $35 -- is meant to fund arts teachers in six Portland school districts and other arts programs. But two legal challenges prompted city officials to warn districts about the uncertainty surrounding the revenue.

Portland Public Schools officials had been looking for a way for neither the city nor the school district to assume all the risk if the tax fell through.

Under the deal with the city, Portland Public Schools would receive approximately $1.5 million for the first payment and need to cover about $750,000 on its own. Superintendent Carole Smith on Monday proposed using $1.5 million total in reserves to cover arts teachers for the entire year if the tax revenue cannot be used.

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