OSBA conference emphasizes push for revenue reform, cost containment
Monday, July 23, 2018
OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel (left) moderated a Saturday discussion with Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) and Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) at OSBA’s Summer Board Conference in Bend. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
OSBA leadership opened the weekend’s Summer Board Conference with a determined call for education funding reform by the 2019 Legislature.
OSBA Board President LeeAnn Larsen, a Beaverton School Board member, said the Legislature needs to fund K-12 education to the Quality Education Model. The model is a biennial report that identifies the best education practices and costs for a high-quality education in Oregon. The Legislature has never met the model’s funding requirement, and in 2017-19 fell $1.8 billion short.
OSBA is investing $1.5 million on advocacy toward revenue reform, cost containment and accountability over the next year. OSBA has plans for polling similar to its 2017 efforts, as well as building grass-roots support and lobbying.
More than 200 school board members, administrators and administrative professionals registered for the July 20-22 event in Bend. Nearly two dozen workshops covered best board practices and important education issues. One pre-conference session was designed for administrative professionals, and another showed school boards’ role in disrupting poverty.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said creating adequate and stable school funding should be the Legislature’s top priority. Green emphasized that it’s not just about adding taxes. The Legislature must work on cost containment, he said, including the Public Employees Retirement System, health care and unfunded legislative mandates.
Green said OSBA will be calling on school board members to persuade legislators to do the right thing and fund education at the QEM.
“Come together as a single voice,” Green told the crowd.
The message resonated with attendees.
Oregon Virtual Academy Board Member Steven Isaacs said he perceived a common mission among the variety of school boards at the conference.
“The ultimate goal is helping all kids,” he said.
Gervais School Board Chair Michael Jirges, a member of OSBA’s Legislative Policy Committee, said local school board member volunteers are already committed to education and they are ideal to start a grass-roots movement. He said OSBA is in a unique position to organize advocates on a larger level than individual districts.
The conference also debuted the latest Promise of Oregon video, about a graduating senior in the North Clackamas School District, where career and technical education has helped lift graduation rates. OSBA’s Promise campaign aims to create public support for K-14 education by showcasing Oregon students’ dreams and achievements.
Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) updated attendees about the Joint Interim Committee on Student Success’ work. Smith Warner is the committee’s co-chair, and Knopp is the co-vice chair. The committee is traveling the state to gather ideas for a 2019 legislative plan to adequately fund K-12 public schools while improving Oregon education.
Smith Warner said the committee’s goal is to develop a bipartisan deal that includes funding, cost containment and accountability. The committee is wrestling with how best to fund wraparound student support in light of how schools have become community centers for providing services.
Knopp said it has become clear to legislators that schools are no longer just providing education.