The Milton-Freewater School Board has approved a roughly $30 million budget for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Aaron Duff said building the budget this year was unlike any other because of the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we were told by the Oregon Department of Education was to base our budget on last year’s budget for now,” Duff said. “They don’t know what the funding is going to be like. We don’t know what the funding is going to be like.”

Duff said the district won’t have a good idea on what funding will look like until after a special session of the Oregon Legislature.

“It looks like it will be mid-July before that specific special session is held,” he said. “We’re not sure if there will be some federal dollars coming in. There are just a lot of unknowns at this point.”

The budget is similar to the 2019-20 budget with a few changes, such as a change to staffing dollars to take into account recent retirements.

Duff said the district is prepared to adjust to whatever funding the school ends up receiving.

“We were told to come up with a tiered plan for budgeting, and we have done that,” he said. “We have a plan for how we can reduce our budget if needed, and what impact that would have. And if we have added dollars, we have a plan for where those dollars would go.”

Duff said the district is also prepared for added expenses caused by adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With COVID, we are looking at a lot of expenses and a lot of unknowns,” Duff said. “So we based our budget on what we knew without speculating, fully knowing that we will be back in the fall adjusting our budget when we can base it on more things that we know.

Jeremy Burnham can be reached at or 509-551-8896.


Jeremy Burnham covers education and Columbia County for the Union-Bulletin. He is a recent graduate of Eastern Washington University, where he studied journalism, and is an Eastern Eagle fanatic.