Legislative assignments put school board members in thick of education funding
Thursday, December 20, 2018
The Joint Student Success Committee's visit to the Baker Technical Institute in April was one of the highlights of the legislators’ tour of Oregon schools. Rep. Diego Hernandez tried out a heavy-equipment simulator at the innovative career and technical education program. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
With revenue reform and education funding shaping up as 2019’s driving legislative issues, the committee assignments released Thursday reveal who will be steering policy.
School board members Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham; Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend; Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland; and Sen. Rob Wagner, D-Tualatin, hold positions on revenue, spending and education committees. House and Senate leadership make the committee assignments.
“We’re excited to see school board members in positions of influence in the Legislature,” said OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel. OSBA has committed to revenue reform and cost containment advocacy in the 2019 Legislature.
The Joint Committee on Student Success is expected to be central to the Legislature's education and revenue reform work, and it will bring together members serving on revenue, spending and education policy committees. Hernandez will return to the reconstituted committee that has added four new members, including Helt, who was elected in November.
Co-Chair Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said he expects his Student Success Committee to create subcommittees for issues such as revenue reform, accountability, cost containment and policy.
Roblan, a former principal, also sits on the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which determines state budgets. Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, and Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, sit on both committees as well.
Wagner, a Lake Oswego School Board member, will chair the Senate Education Committee, which handles most bills related to schools. The chairperson decides which measures can come up for discussion, and Wagner is excited to dig into education issues.
“It’s not about policy; it’s about kids,” he said. “It’s so foundational to who we are.”
Wagner is also on Ways and Means, and he said he has already been involved in discussions about how revenue, budget, policy and the Student Success Committee will intersect.
“All of it needs to be working together this session because we are all about revenue reform for schools,” he said.
On the House side, the Student Success Committee shares members with Revenue, Education and the Ways and Means committees.
“I believe Student Success is the important committee so that we make sure we get education right in Oregon,” said Helt, vice chair of the House Education Committee.
The Education Committee will be led by Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, a former Milwaukie high school teacher and Oregon Education Association consultant. Hernandez, a Reynolds School Board member, is also on the Education Committee.
Hernandez is on the House Revenue Committee as well, which will be led by Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, a new member of the Student Success Committee. The Revenue Committee handles most House revenue bills.
As a member of the Student Success Committee, Hernandez traveled the state as education advocates and professionals laid out Oregon’s needs.
“My goal is to make sure education is fully funded and that we address the issues that came up across the state,” he said.
Piluso, a Gresham-Barlow School Board member, will be on the Joint Ways and Means Committee.
“Bottom line: We need to fund education and we need to fund at a better level than we have before,” she said.