Education advocates make the case for higher Oregon school funding

Mar 7, 2019

School advocates packed a hearing room Thursday to tell legislators to adequately fund Oregon’s K-12 programs.

The Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee held its only scheduled public testimony on the bill that will set the State School Fund, House Bill 5016. School board members, parents, students, and education professionals offered impassioned testimony about schools’ life-changing programs and the need to fund them.

Among those testifying was Century High junior Jessica Jose-Nickerson, an advisory member of the Hillsboro School Board. She said that Oregon students can see how they are being short-changed compared with students from other states.

“Every one of the more than 581,000 students in Oregon’s public schools, including myself, has seen future prospects of success diminishing as a result of years and years of schools being underfunded,” she said.

Jessica is among four students from around the state whose passion for education is leading them to advocate for full and stable Oregon school funding. Their stories – and their interactions with legislative leaders – will be told in a series of campaign videos debuting soon.

OSBA Board Past President LeeAnn Larsen, a Beaverton School Board member, testified Thursday it was long past time that legislators who say they value education actually deliver stable and adequate funding. Doing so, she said, is necessary to keep class sizes manageable and provide an education that engages students and prepares them for the future.

“I hope you will have the courage and foresight to make the necessary decisions to invest in our students,” she said.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee co-chairs’ budget framework, which will set the starting point for State School Fund discussions, is expected as soon as today. Education advocates have been told that it will offer less than schools need just to maintain current services and avoid staff and program cuts at many districts.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee will be traveling the state to take public testimony on the state budget, with the first hearing Saturday in Coos Bay. Visit our events page at for a complete list of state budget hearing times and locations.

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