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OSBA and COSA hold successful Legislative Day at the Capitol

Craig Hawkins, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators executive director, urged education advocates at the OSBA and COSA Legislative Day to stay focused on the amount in the State School Fund and not let themselves be distracted by small talk or other issues. (Photo by Alex Pulaski, OSBA)

Almost 100 education advocates visited the Capitol on March 13 as part of the OSBA and COSA Legislative Day. Most attendees took the opportunity to visit directly with legislators and share their views on pressing topics such as education funding, Measure 98, revenue reform and the replacement of old school buildings.

The day began at Willamette Heritage Center, where OSBA Board President Betty Reynolds (West Linn-Wilsonville School District) welcomed attendees.

“Our top priority is adequate and stable funding for education,” Reynolds told the audience.

The chair of the House Education Committee, Rep. Margaret Doherty (D-Tigard), delivered some reassurance to a roomful of school board members, educators, district staff and superintendents.

“Anything that is an unfunded mandate, I’m not going to pass through committee,” Doherty said.

That was an applause-generating message for education advocates, who were receiving strategic training and guidance for dealing with the Legislature. The K-12 public education budget will be a primary focus this session.

“You have one job and the job is to make the case for why at least $8.4 billion is the minimum amount that needs to be in the State School Fund for the next biennium,” Craig Hawkins, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators executive director, told the group.

Oregon school business officials have calculated that the State School Fund needs at least $8.4 billion for most schools to continue at current service levels. The legislative budget framework presented in January offered $7.8 billion for the school fund. Participants were reminded over and again to stay focused on the need for $8.4 billion and the impact if schools don’t get it.

Speakers gave an overview of legislative issues and advice on how to talk with legislators. Attendees, who met with legislators later in the day, were reminded of the power of face-to-face meetings and real-life stories about kids needing support.

Siuslaw School District Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak said he wanted his senator to commit to pushing for a stable education funding system. “Doesn’t matter if the economy is up or the economy is down, the kids still go to school,” he said.

- Jake Arnold
Communications and news specialist