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Oregon Passes Education Budget; Educators Say "Not Enough"

The Oregon Legislature has passed an education budget that now heads to Gov. Kate Brown's desk. (Edmund Garman/Flickr)
The Oregon Legislature has passed an education budget that now heads to Gov. Kate Brown's desk. (Edmund Garman/Flickr)
June 28, 2017

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon House on Tuesday passed an education budget of $8.2 billion for the next two years, but educators say they're being shorted once again.

Even legislators warned the funding amount will mean cuts for some school districts, fewer teachers and larger class sizes. Oregon educators who have been in the field for many years say they've witnessed the diminishing returns of the state's education budget.

Ericka Keefauver, an instructional coach for the Hermiston School District, assessed what she's seen in her hometown.

"Right now," said Keefauver, a former teacher and mother of five, "I'm seeing teachers left and right leaving the profession of teaching because they don't feel like they're capable of doing the job, because they're not given the tools and the resources and the capacity to do that."

State lawmakers also are dealing with a budget gap of about $1.6 billion. The education budget now heads to Gov. Kate Brown's desk, and she is likely to sign it. Brown called for an education budget of $8 billion this session.

Celine Buczek, a special-education teacher in Central Point who works with students ages 18 to 21 transitioning into the workplace, said her program could lose funding for transportation under budget cuts, seriously hampering opportunities for her students. She said cuts such as this hurt kids.

"It is cheating students out of a quality education that they might get in states where there's better funding," she said, "and it's also a big burden for teachers."

The Oregon Education Association already has filed two ballot measures for the 2018 election to address inadequate school funding. Keefauver said continued under-funding could drive a younger generation of Oregonians away from the state.

"I feel like we're doing a disservice to our own citizens, our own future voters," she said, "by not allowing them to have the education that they deserve."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR