What a return to the school year! I’ve been thinking a lot about the transformative nature of our Bargaining Proposal and the way systems are changing here at PAT. This, in conjunction with the new budgets being set at the district and state level, has me feeling like I’m Charlie Day using red yarn to connect different paths forward.
Bargaining and Budgets:
We are at a pivotal moment in our movement towards fully funded public schools. Right now, 3 major discussions are taking place:
- PPS’ process for the 2023-24 Budget begins: PPS held a meeting with labor leaders to share that (surprise!) it is unsustainable to use our reserves to make up for our budget shortfall. We need a State School Fund budget of at least $10.6 Billion in order to maintain Current Service Levels. Last biennium, the budget was $9.3 Billion. We lost dozens of classroom educator positions in the last budget cycle. Now more than ever, we need to ensure we have safe staffing levels in our schools. PAT also believes that a review and restructuring of non-building based administrative positions could support finding ways to improve student and educator experience while reducing the budget.
- The Oregon State School Fund Budget for Biennium 2023-25 being Debated: During this session, the Oregon Legislature will be deciding on school funding for the next biennium (SY2023-24 and SY2024-25). According to the Quality Education Model, in order to have K-12 class size averages of 20 students, full time school nurses and school counselors at the nationally recommended 1:250 ratio, it will cost the state $11.9 Billion over the two years. The estimated proposal listed in the ODE report is $9.372 Billion.
- Student Success Act Application cycle ramps up: ODE has provided new guidance on the fund applications, as it is now integrating 6 different programs into one: High School Success (HSS), Student Investment Account (SIA), Continuous Improvement Planning (CIP), Career and Technical Education - Perkins V (CTE), Every Day Matters (EDM), Early Indicator and Intervention Systems (EIIS). The guidance came down February 2022, and plans are reaching the public comment stage now, during Winter 2023. Keep an eye out for communications from PPS about these “engagement sessions''. See the Legislative Report from 2022 HERE.
This means we have a very clear path forward to fully funding our schools at the state level. PAT’s Legislative Committee is and will continue to work closely with the Oregon Education Association (OEA) Government Relations Team to identify lobbying and organizing opportunities for advocacy. The Bargaining Team and Committee will continue to keep these numbers in mind as we push forward our most ambitious proposal yet.
Budgets are moral documents. They show us what we collectively prioritize and are willing to fund. Our school system and our students can no longer maintain after decades of underinvestment and mismanagement. The current timeline is perfect for all educators, students, families, management and community to stand up and advocate for what we know our students deserve.
I believe in us. I believe we can change this world for the better. We do that one button wearing campaign, one conversation, one rally, one step at a time. We do that together.
And in case no one told you today, you are awesome and we love you!