Town hall offers information, tools to advocate for education funding
Friday, January 11, 2019
Education advocates voiced concerns over statewide mandates, local program needs and more at OSBA’s first school funding town hall Thursday in Pendleton.
OSBA’s town hall series, which will run through March, encourages and informs education advocacy as part of “Oregonians for Student Success,” a campaign for adequate and stable state K-12 funding.
OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel and consultant Jake Weigler sketched out the political landscape and the avenues for revenue reform and education funding. According to Sattenspiel and Weigler, legislators are eager to address education funding but public advocacy will help surmount any obstacles.
Education advocates can text the word “SCHOOLS” to 40649 to receive campaign updates. Weigler, who is managing OSBA’s campaign, invited audience members to get involved, including attending lobby days in Salem and reaching out to legislators. Attendees could sign up to be part of the campaign.
“It’s important we have real voices in this effort,” Weigler said.
A question-and-answer period allowed audience members to raise issues and present ideas.
Students from Blue Mountain Community College, where the event was held, were focused on career and technical education program funding for the school.
Beau Skinner, a Blue Mountain student, said he came to learn how he could support funding for needed improvements at his school. He said the college is an essential economic engine for the region, offering area students career training that they otherwise could not access.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the public’s support,” he said.
Hermiston School Board member Ginny Holthus wanted to know where the state might get new school revenue.
Weigler responded that the Legislature has been looking at business taxes, and Sattenspiel added that cost containment on issues such as health care and the Public Employees Retirement System would also be part of the puzzle.
Hermiston School District Superintendent Tricia Mooney expressed concerns that new money would come with funding restrictions that make it difficult for districts to effectively meet student needs.
Hermiston School Board member Josh Goller said the evening helped him understand OSBA’s advocacy plan and how local community members could get involved.
“The Hermiston School Board is committed to revenue reform,” Goller said.
OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel tells audience members Thursday night in Pendleton how they can get involved with advocating for greater investment in Oregon’s students. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)