Representative Lindsay: Reforming Education in Oregon

by Rep. Shawn Lindsay (R-Hillsboro)

The Bipartisan Education Package

Managing the K-12 education system is one of the most important jobs we have as legislators. It’s a role I take very seriously. As a father of three young girls, I work closely with our public school system to prepare my daughters to be tomorrow’s leaders. The bipartisan votes taken yesterday in the House of Representatives are a signal that the legislature, for the first time in decades, is serious about education reform. Together, these reforms help promote choice, accountability, and innovation in our educational system.

The list below includes some of the education bills voted on yesterday that take these necessary steps forward:

• HB 3681: Allows students to enroll in the school district of their choice, so long as the receiving district grants permission.
• HB 2301: Raises the current enrollment caps on statewide virtual charter schools and replacing them with a limit of no more than three percent of students from any single district.
• HB 3645: Allows a charter school applicant to seek sponsorship from the Board of Education, a local community college, or a public university that chooses to participate, if the applicant was initially rejected by a school district.

The package also gives us the opportunity to direct more funding to education using existing resources. Elements include:

• $25 million to the State School Fund (from the Education Stability Fund).
• $14 million to the State School Fund from savings due to Education Service District (ESD) reform.
• $8.66 million to help rural school districts address unintended cuts from school consolidation.
• $5 million to establish the School District Collaboration Grant Program that providesincentives for teachers to improve student achievement through innovative means.
• $2.9 million to fund statewide Agriculture Extension programs.

Additional bills in the package include:

• SB 248: Allows districts to offer full day kindergarten and provides Average Daily Membership (ADM) funding if they choose to do so.
• SB 250: Allows school districts in four Education Service Districts (ESDs) (Baker, WESD, Multnomah and NWESD) to opt out and receive 90 percent of the funding allotted to the ESD for the share of the children serviced by the ESD.
• SB 253: Establishes new goals on higher education, specifically that at least 40 percent of adult Oregonians have earned a bachelor’s degree, 40 percent have earned an associate’s degree, and that the remaining 20 percent or less of all adult Oregonians have earned a high school diploma by 2025.
• SB 552: Makes the Governor the state’s chief school official and allows the Governor to appoint a Deputy Superintendent.
• SB 909A: Establishes the Oregon Education Investment Board that will oversee the process of recommending strategic outcome-based budgets for public education. Subject to ratification by the Legislature in 2012, the board will oversee all of public education in Oregon from preschool to higher education. The Board will appoint a Chief Education Officer to assist in carrying out the functions of the Board. Authority for the Board sunsets on March 15, 2016.
• HB 3362: Allows districts to join together to form Career and Technical Education charter schools.
• HB 3417: Aligns the budget and accounting system of a school district with their sponsored charter schools.
• HB 3474: Creates a uniform set of performance evaluation measures for teachers.

As a candidate, I campaigned on education reform. I am proud that we forged ahead to break the status quo, and we will continue to do so.