Senator says he will introduce bill to fund Quality Education Model
Michelle Vo (center), Corbett School Board chair and OSBA Board member, and John Hartsock, Gresham-Barlow School Board and OSBA Legislative Policy Committee member, presented school board members’ views at the education stakeholders meeting Thursday in Portland. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
Sen. Tim Knopp told education stakeholders gathered Thursday night in Portland that he plans to introduce legislation to fully fund the Quality Education Model, the gold standard for Oregon schools.
The Joint Interim Committee on Student Success vice-chair said reaching the funding level he believes schools deserve will require changes.
“We need to engage business,” said Knopp (R-Bend). “We obviously need revenue reform.”
As the committee nears the end of its statewide public meeting tour, it continues to hear a mixture of the same education issues and local innovations and solutions.
The committee has been traveling the state since March to gather information for a plan to improve and adequately fund the K-12 public education system. Committee work groups are shaping policy recommendations ranging from early education to college preparation, and the full committee is expected to deliver a report in late December.
On Thursday in Portland, legislators visited with students, toured six schools and met with community leaders before taking public testimony in the evening.
At the education stakeholders meeting, advocates repeatedly invoked the Quality Education Model, a nonpartisan report on education best practices and their cost. The model estimates Oregon would need to spend $10.7 billion in the next biennium for a high-quality education system.
Portland School Board Chair Rita Moore called for improved funding for the entire education spectrum, from early learning to post-secondary, echoing the sentiments of many at the table.
“We need serious, major revenue reform,” Moore told legislators.
Revenue reform for Oregon education is shaping up as one of the major themes for the 2019 Legislature, and the joint committee’s work is expected to be a guiding force.
Moore, an OSBA Legislative Policy Committee member, warned that the State School Fund shouldn’t take funding from other state services that families need for their children to be successful. She encouraged support for greater collaboration between schools and city, county and state agencies.
Reynolds School Board Chair Valerie Tewksbury explained to legislators how mandated costs have outpaced growth in school budgets. She said that with so many costs out of districts’ control, they are often left only able to cut staff and instructional time.
Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie) challenged the three dozen school board members, administrators and education stakeholders to identify where additional money could come from.
Corporate tax reform was the overwhelming answer.
Corbett School Board Chair Michelle Vo said she wants to see an overhaul of the corporate tax structure coupled with statewide cost containment on expenses such as health costs and the Public Employees Retirement System.
“That’s what it is going to take to get the votes out of business,” she said. Vo is an architectural firm partner and an OSBA Board member.
Thursday’s agenda took legislators around Committee Co-Chair Rep. Barbara Smith Warner’s Portland district. The committee’s final scheduled trip will be Oct. 10 to Co-Chair Sen. Arnie Roblan’s Coos Bay district, where he was a math teacher and principal.
- Jake Arnold, OSBA