OSBA staff went to Albany to listen. Recent legislation and changing COVID-19 policies provided for more than an earful on top of some of the long-standing issues school districts face.
OSBA leaders held the first of 12 Spring Listening Sessions on Wednesday at the Greater Albany Public Schools district office. The in-person meeting included a Zoom option. Superintendents and school board members from a half-dozen districts, the Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District and Linn-Benton Community College attended.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green led the discussion, asking attendees about leadership challenges, lessons learned, achievement gaps and how OSBA can best support education leaders. Green answered questions, but the real goal was to hear what board members had to say.
Monroe School Board Chair Riley Holman said he is looking for guidance because he is leading a mostly new board. He said he came away with lots of information and some useful contacts.
“I also heard everyone is in the same boat,” he said.
The spring meetings are a continuation of the Fall Listening Sessions, which replaced the traditional Fall Regionals. OSBA staff shared what they heard from eastern and southern Oregon in the fall with the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown to help shape policy.
OSBA Deputy Executive Director Mary Paulson said the tenor of the meeting was different from the fall sessions, partly because of the recent changes in the mask rule.
“They are more forward focused because they see the light,” Paulson said. “They are less focused on what is and more focused on what can be.”
Issues raised Wednesday night ranged from the political, such as recently passed legislation to give superintendents more contract protections, to the practical, such as addressing teacher shortages and attendance problems.