More than 100 business and community leaders gathered together this morning for Bend-La Pine Schools 2019 State of the Schools breakfast.
Superintendent Shay Mikalson kicked off the event with highlights of the incredible work taking place in our schools and departments every day and how these efforts are translating into success in the classroom.
While the event was celebratory in nature, it had a serious tone as Mikalson and BEA, OSEA and school board leadership shared stories with a common theme: How the state’s decades long disinvestment in public schools has reached a critical tipping point.
“In spite of the compounding challenges our students and staff have faced as a result of decades of inadequate state education funding, our community has reason to celebrate: Bend-La Pine Schools’ graduation rates are at an all-time high, more freshman are on-track for graduation, our students spend more time giving back to the community than ever before, families are involved with our schools, and we are able to recruit and keep highly effective teachers and leadership,” said Board Chair Andy High.
“We applaud our educators and staff for their relentless support of every child, no matter the challenges they continue to face due to the lack of state resources needed to be truly successful,” High added. “That said, we have reached a point of crisis in Oregon’s schools and classrooms after decades of underfunding.”
Mikalson urged attendees to join school leaders and staff to advocate for what may be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for additional funding at the state level.
“To fulfill the promise of an excellent public education for each and every student, Oregonians need to invest in our future today,” Mikalson said. “This requires that our elected officials allocate adequate and stable funding for K-12 schools.”
Mikalson noted that if our legislators can provide the leadership needed to truly invest in Oregon’s schools, then the voters of our state may have to demonstrate their commitment to this investment at the ballot box. If these efforts fail, it falls to the voters of Bend-La Pine Schools to generate local dollars to supplement state funding shortfalls and support our local schools.
This week, the Joint Committee on Student Success passed House Bill 3427 on a 10-6 vote, clearing the first major hurdle in the legislative process. The bill was adopted with the -32 amendments and includes significant investments in K-12 and early childhood education. You can find the proposed expenditures (which will be officially appropriated in House Bill 5047) on this chart.
“It’s time to invest in our schools and give all Oregon students the opportunities they deserve,” Mikalson said.
The breakfast was just one of the many efforts underway to raise awareness and advocate at the local and state levels for appropriate school funding.
- Bend-La Pine Schools Board of Directors and union leadership recently urged Oregon lawmakers to increase funding for Oregon's schools, in person, as they testified on the behalf of our schools’ staff. You can read their testimony here
- Messaging has been sent to families and community members with an ask that they write their legislators to ask for appropriate, stable funding of our schools.
- This week, board member Peggy Kinkade and board chair Andy High sat down with a host for a live interview with KBND radio where they advocated for appropriate funding for schools.
- A letter writing campaign is underway with letters being submitted to the Oregonian, Bend Bulletin, Source Weekly, Sunriver Scene and Newberry Eagle – all advocating for appropriate funding for our schools.
- The May 8 March for Students events in Bend and La Pine are gaining community interest and will bring hundreds of supporters of education together in one place to demand an end to Oregon’s disinvestment in education.
- Businesses have pledged to show their support of local schools and staff with messaging on area reader boards.
- Community members and business owners are going RED FOR ED and donning red attire on Wednesdays.