Oregon schools budget on pace for earliest passage ever

The leaders of both chambers of the Oregon Legislature said Monday the $7.2 billion K-12 schools budget is ready for its next step.

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The leaders of both chambers of the Oregon Legislature said Monday the $7.2 billion K-12 schools budget is ready for its next step.

The proposal calls for a $600 million increase to the 2013-15 budget and encompasses measures for full-day kindergarten, the Portland Business Journal reports.

House Speaker Tina Kotek said in a news release: “We are taking a major step forward for working families and kids throughout our state by funding full-day kindergarten. Every child in Oregon deserves the opportunity to succeed, and this budget locks in a stable funding floor, while also boosting support to schools for English language learners, children with disabilities, and low-income students.”

From the PBJ:

The leaders said they want a budget in place before the next economic and revenue forecast, which lands in May. …

The budget is expected to earn consideration from the Joint Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. If lawmakers approve it next week, it would be the earliest time in recent memory that a schools budget earned legislative approval. The budget was approved on April 13 in 2011 and on April 21 in 1995.

While lawmakers touted the impact of the proposed budget, students and teachers descended on the Capitol Monday to push for more money in the budget.

The groups hoped to see the budget number closer to $7.875, the Statesman Journal reports.

“There is a kindergarten teacher in Oregon with 53 students in full-day kindergarten classroom. There are primary grades that have 30-plus students that walk in every day. We’ve got high schools with 50-plus students in a class,” said association president Hanna Vaandering. “If we really believe in providing for every student in Oregon then we have to provide the funding for them.”

OEA said the current co-chair’s budget of $7.235 billion is about $300 million below the level needed for schools to keep their programs and implement full-day kindergarten. It would result in staff layoffs, larger class sizes, a shorter school year and reduction of programs. Vaandering said the purpose of the estimated 100 OEA members and teachers was to focus on two things: funding and assessment.

“We need to make sure we have the capacity to provide for every student,” she said in Joce Johnson’s story. “7.235 (billion dollars) will result in cuts in far too many districts across the state.”