June 12, 2007
Contact: Rebekah Orr,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Democrats Lead House to Approve Record
Reinvestment in Oregon's K-12 Public Schools
totaling $6.245 billion for 2007-09 sail through on bipartisan
SALEM—House Democrats delivered on a promised
significant reinvestment in K-12 education with the approval today
of a combined $6.245 billion budget for 2007-09. Three budgets—the
State School Fund, the School Improvement Fund and the Department of
Education budget were approved today with unanimous, bipartisan
"Sixteen years of Republican control in the
House wreaked havoc on K-12 schools in Oregon,"
said House Majority
Leader Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas County). "Today, Democrats
have begun to reverse decades of disinvestment and finally put kids
first in Oregon."
the budget approvals represent a turnaround for education in Oregon
with immediate effects felt throughout the state.
Representative David Edwards (D-Hillsboro), whose district holds
some of the highest-growth areas in the state told fellow lawmakers,
"This reinvestment means my school district can add
fifty-two new teaching positions, provide more academic support
services and increase funding to three sports programs. These and
other, similar improvements in districts around the state will make
a material and transformative difference in the lives of hundreds of
thousands of students."
that in addition to the dollar amount, the approval of the three
main education budgets today is the earliest passed by the Oregon
Legislature in a decade. During the 2005 Legislative session, for
example, the budget was not approved until the last day of
session—August 5. This early passage allows school districts to
immediately begin planning for the increased funding and
implementing related changes in the upcoming school year.
years as a school board member, we lived with the uncertainty of
late K-12 budgets that forced enormous increases in class size and
the closure of four public schools in Corvallis alone,"
Representative Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis). "This is the best
and earliest budget this state has seen in decades. In
approving this budget, we are promising our students lower classes,
a full school year, and the promise of an education that will
prepare them for success in the 21st century."
Two of the
budgets approved today—The Department of Education Budget and the
School Improvement Fund—contain specific programs and provisions
aimed at increasing student achievement.
of Education Budget includes $39 million to fund Oregon's
pre-kindergarten Head Start Program--$10 million above the
Governor's Recommended Budget. At previous funding levels, just over
half of eligible kids could participate in the program. Today's
approved budget allows the state to enroll 75 percent of eligible
school principal I've seen too many kids come to school unprepared
for academic success,"
said State Representative Betty Komp (D-Woodburn). "Too
often, these kids—already at a disadvantage—fall even further
behind. Head Start has a proven track record of preparing kids for a
lifetime of success and ensuring that these kids come to school
prepared to learn, thrive academically and socially."
the $260 million contained in the School Improvement Fund is
specifically dedicated to improving student achievement.
"Today's vote allows school districts
flexibility to spend money on the established best-practices that
are most critical for their student population—whether that is
decreasing class sizes, implementing all-day kindergarten or
increasing vocational training for high school students,"
Representative Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay).
"At the same time, by limiting the ways the money can
be spent and requiring districts to report on the outcomes of those
expenditures, the fund guarantees clear accountability to tax
Building a world-class public
education system—including adequate school funding-- is a core part
of House Democrats' Roadmap for Oregon's future. The bills now move
to the Senate for final approval.