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OSBA board members report productive meetings in D.C.

Board members of the Oregon School Boards Association met with other Federal Relations Network (FRN) members and with Oregon’s congressional delegation during the week of February 6 in Washington, D.C., to urge restoration of federal help to rural counties where the federal government owns vast tracks of land that pay no property taxes.

The board members also underscored to Oregon’s senators and representatives the importance of granting Oregon’s proposed waiver of the testing provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The waiver would give Oregon schools needed flexibility in measuring and reporting students’ academic progress.

The OSBA board members who took the school boards’ messages to Washington are:

  • President Kris Howatt (Gresham-Barlow School District)
  • Past President David Beeson (Silver Falls School District)
  • Secretary-Treasurer David Krumbein (Pendleton School District)
  • Karen Cunningham (Beaverton School District)
  • Laurie Adams (Springfield School District)
  • Sam Lee (Winston-Dillard School District)

Federal payments to counties

OSBA leaders have stressed the importance of renewing federal payments to counties now that counties have received the final payments under the recently expired Secure Rural Schools Act. Oregon’s counties will lose $250 million in annual income paid by the federal government to compensate for vast tracts of federal land that generate no property taxes. With the end of the federal payments, the state stands to lose about 4,000 jobs and $400 million in business sales, according to a recent study by economists at Oregon State University.

NCLB waiver

The state’s request for a waiver of NCLB would enable school districts and community colleges to enter into “achievement compacts” with the state and each other to assess students’ academic progress and readiness for post-secondary education. OSBA has called the education compacts an “important tool” in enabling schools to measure students’ achievement and set targets for improvement.

Senate Bill 1581, the bill that authorizes achievement compacts, has passed the Senate Education Committee and now awaits further action in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.