With a short timeline and some consequential education bills lined up, the 2022 session is looking like a wild ride ahead.
The 2022 legislative session opens Tuesday, Feb. 1. This short session is limited under the Oregon Constitution to no more than 35 days and must conclude no later than Monday, March 7.
The session’s compressed nature means tight process timelines and a limited number of bills. This does not, however, limit the scope of bills’ contents, and some ambitious education bills have been proposed.
OSBA’s legislative agenda for this session includes four main bills:
House Bill 4026: Funding stabilization for school communities affected by the 2020 wildfires. The 2020 wildfire season did unprecedented damage to some Oregon school districts and communities. These districts face enrollment fluctuations and funding insecurity that threaten further harm. HB 4026 would deliver additional state money to these districts to keep their enrollment-based funding at pre-fire levels through 2025.
HB 4029: School leadership training. Oregon school board members do not have any professional development requirements. Training from OSBA and other sources is available on a variety of issues and topics, but frequently trainings are tabled because of all the other district requirements and expenses. There is a growing body of evidence, though, that boards that have effective trainings reap great benefits for their students. HB 4029 would require all boards and superintendents to complete a board-driven self-assessment every two years to identify their training needs and to implement a two-year plan for professional learning. The bill would also require new board members and prospective chairs and vice chairs to receive additional training on the roles’ requirements.
Senate Bill 1521: Stability in school district leadership. Staff stability is best for students, and Oregon has faced unprecedented turnover in school leadership in recent years. There are 216 superintendent positions in Oregon. Since the 2018-19 school year, there has been an average of 32 vacancies each year. SB 1521 would provide limited employment protections for superintendents and a prohibition against firing a superintendent for following federal, state or local laws.
SB 1546: Funded transfer of the Elliott State Forest. The Elliott State Forest has been at the center of passionate conversations for many years. The forest is held by the Common School Fund, which has a requirement to fund public education. In recent years the forest has not been able to produce enough timber harvest revenue to benefit the fund, and in fact, forest maintenance costs the fund money. SB 1546 would complete the transfer of the forest from the Common School Fund to a newly established independent public agency to be managed by Oregon State University as a research forest. SB 1546 would deliver $120 million to the fund in addition to $100 million previously delivered by the Legislature to compensate for the forest’s estimated value.
OSBA has also been involved with stakeholder discussions on many other bill topics, including investments in professional development opportunities for Ethnic Studies (HB 4112), requiring school board members to file elections Statements of Economic Interest (HB 4114), oversight of school board meetings by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (HB 4140), and direct complaints to the State Board of Education for certain violations of education law (SB 1578).
So far, 259 measures have been introduced for the short session. The OSBA Legislative Services team has read and reviewed all of them, and 90 are on OSBA’s bill-tracking list.