Full State School Fund for now, Gill says at OSBA conference
Monday, July 13, 2020
July checks for schools will be based on a full $9 billion State School Fund, Colt Gill said Saturday.
The Oregon Department of Education director, a keynote speaker at OSBA’s Virtual Summer Board Conference, said Gov. Kate Brown is committed to maintaining the State School Fund despite Oregon’s economic downturn in the wake of the coronavirus.
Decisions on some elements of the Student Success Act, including the school district grants, and the High School Success Fund, known as Measure 98, will have to wait on federal and state legislative moves, Gill said.
The virtual conference was a first for OSBA, and yet strangely familiar for many after months of working from home.
The coronavirus pandemic forced OSBA to cancel its annual summer conference in Bend, and OSBA put together a half day of virtual learning, inspiration and networking. The conference included 10 workshop presentations and themed chat rooms to discuss important issues
More than 200 people registered for the conference, which featured keynote addresses from Gill and Oregon School Activities Association Executive Director Peter Weber. Gill and Weber talked about fall plans and answered questions.
Scott Nine, ODE Office of Education Innovation and Improvement assistant superintendent, provided additional information on the Student Success Act during a workshop with Gill.
The act sets up three funds: the Student Investment Account, which provides direct grants to school; the Early Learning Account, which offers some funding opportunities to public schools; and the Statewide Education Initiatives Account, a catchall for state programs. The corporate activities tax supporting those funds, though, is projected to bring in 25% less, approximately $410 million, than originally estimated for this biennium, according to ODE.
The Early Learning Account will go forward as previously projected, Nine said. Some of the statewide initiatives will also go forward at full funding, including plans to support historically underserved student populations and to diversify the educator workforce.
The governor has asked ODE to hold off on further implementation of the Student Investment Account and High School Success until the Legislature holds a special session, he said.
Attendees also wanted to talk about ODE’s guidance for school openings, from physical distancing rules to mask recommendations. Nine boiled it down: If you have to make a choice between health and safety and academics, lean toward health and safety.
ODE plans to offer guidance updates on July 21 and Aug. 11, before fall operational blueprint plans are due Aug. 15.
Weber’s keynote focused on OSAA’s goal to get as many students as possible in as many activities as possible as soon as possible, if it can be done safely.
“We know that not all activities may be able to go this fall,” he said. “We know not all areas of the state may be able to participate in all activities.”
Attendees have access to all the content and session recordings for a year through Pathable, the virtual event’s platform. OSBA Board Development Director Steve Kelley has asked for attendee feedback as OSBA plans for future virtual events. Attendees can fill out the feedback survey or contact Kelley directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green wrapped up the conference with appreciation for everyone’s hard work in recent months.
“Thank you for managing through a process that none of us have a playbook for,” Green said. “Schools will look different than they have in the past, but schools will continue on.”