Take A Ride On Oregon's School Funding Roller Coaster Rising property values in Oregon in the '90s led voters to cap property taxes. The state turned to income tax to fund its schools. But that can be unpredictable, and schools have suffered ever since.
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Take A Ride On Oregon's School Funding Roller Coaster

Pendleton Superintendent Jon Peterson (right) and Pendleton High School principal Dan Greenough look over a storage lot next to the high school. It used to be full of student projects. With the wood shop closed, there's little here. Rob Manning/OPB hide caption

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Rob Manning/OPB

Pendleton Superintendent Jon Peterson (right) and Pendleton High School principal Dan Greenough look over a storage lot next to the high school. It used to be full of student projects. With the wood shop closed, there's little here.

Rob Manning/OPB

In the early 1990s, voters in Oregon were feeling some tax anxiety.

Property values were rising, and many worried that also meant a rise in property taxes. And so, with something called Measure 5, they capped them.

Since schools depend heavily on property taxes, Oregon did something unique. The state decided to use income tax revenue to help offset the effect of this new property-tax cap.

There's just one problem: In tough economic times, income is more volatile than property values. And so began a roller coaster for Oregon's schools.

For more about the effects on Pendleton High School and the rest of the schools in the state, click here.

The story of Oregon's school funding challenges is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR's Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.