With Spring Break winding down, the final stretch of the school year starts coming into focus – and for some students that can mean either a burst of restlessness, or conversely, a touch of boredom. In either case, this can be a great time for kids to experiment a little, possibly trying some afterschool activities.
Here’s a few opportunities you may want to run by your kiddo, and let us know if you bump into others you’d like us to let our readers know about.
Dan Coyle Afterschool Outdoor Explorations: Our fair burgh’s go-to human for outdoor education is offering everything from nature play, biking, adventure, archery and more. The goal is simple, teaching kids skills and offering them an awareness of the worlds around them.
Conveniently, you can book these classes through the City’s Parks and Rec website, and you can click here to do that. The classes start the second week of April and run until the first week of June – cost ranges between $300 and $481, depending on the class you choose.
Parks & Rec Youth Swim: Lot’s of options, and costs ranging between $40 and $67 make these programs popular. At press time, the site was a tad wonky, but you can give it try – and they do supply a phone number if that doesn’t work. Click here to try their site.
Kidspirit: From gymnastic to archery, they also offer cooking and sewing – expect to pay between $100 and $300 depending on your kiddo’s interests. Centrally located on the OSU campus, with a generally enthusiastic staff – the place just feels good. To learn more or register, click here.
AWSEM Club: It stands for Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Math – these clubs are designed to nurture girls’ interest in STEM by providing a program of hands-on activities paired with female undergraduate students studying STEM.
For kids grades 5 to 7, it’s another Oregon State University program – this one’s next class, however, does not start until April 25. That said, we think they’re worth the wait. To learn more or register, click here. At press time, we did not have a response about fees.
Majestic Theatre Next Week: They have something for almost any age school kid – Teen acting classes start as early as this Sunday, and beginning tap classes for ages 5 to 12 start on Tuesday. A teen Writers’ Ready Room also starts on Tuesday.
Majestic, Week After Next: The Majestic Theatre Youth Production Company is for ages 9 to 15, Youth Cheer has options for ages 5 to 15. Some of these start on April 10, others on April 13.
In early May, they have something called Stage Combat for Kids, which is what it sounds like, kids from ages 7 to 11 will learn the basic strategies, moves, and protocols for unarmed and armed stage combat.
For information about The Majestic’s education programs, and to register, click here.
New Principal at Cheldelin: Stephanne Seals moves the short distance from North Albany Middle School, where she has been principal, to take the reins at our westmost middle school starting July 1.
Before working for Albany’s district, she worked for the Salem-Keizer and Wichita School Districts as an assistant principal. She has worked in public education for 28 years as a principal, learning coach, and middle school teacher.
She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with a middle-level endorsement in Social Studies and a Master of Education Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision.
Art That’s Too Messy for Home: A one-day-a-week art enrichment class with an emphasis on creative activities for ages 2 and a half to 5, and their parents or caregivers. It’s at the LBCC Benton Center, and they do the messy projects you may not want to do at home.
Three times per term, via Zoom, parents/caregivers join the instructor for a “Parent Get Together”, where parents can focus on understanding and planning activities that optimize children’s development.
Class meets Thursdays, 9:30 to 11:30 am, April 6 to June 8. The online parent get-togethers are on Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9 pm, April 12, April 26, and May 24.
Grants are available to help with the fees. Cost is $79.00, or $39.50 for those that qualify. Click here to learn more or register.
Childbirth Classes: This four-week childbirth education class is designed to prepare you to walk into your birth and new parent experience confidently. This class will help you view birth as a normal, healthy event and to help you build that confidence in your own body and its capability to birth. All the information is evidence-based and includes recommendations from major health organizations such as CDC, ACOG, and WHO.
Classes are at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, weekly on Tuesday evenings 6 to 8:15 pm, April 4 to 25, 2023. A virtual option is also available. Cost: $110 per pregnant person (partner included). If you have Oregon Health Plan insurance (IHN or Pacific Source), Your plan will cover this class at no cost to you. Click here for details and registration.
Education Advocate Unamused: The Oregon School Board Association, or OSBA, issued analysis on two legislative earthquakes making their statehouse rounds this last week. We’ll just say that folks familiar with Melissa Goff will be surprised-not-surprised over the school boards bill – and the budget is no picnic. Without further ado, here’s the OSBA analysis…
Melissa Goff’s Bombshell: Gov. Tina Kotek’s education adviser’s first foray into the Senate Education Committee to present a bill was a doozy. The bombshell Melissa Goff dropped with little warning last week would fundamentally alter Oregon’s education structure, shifting broad swaths of decision-making power from locally elected boards to Salem.
“In my 30 years in education, it’s the largest impingement on school board authority I’ve seen,” said OSBA Executive Director Jim Green. “It would be almost as if they don’t want school boards to exist in Oregon.”
Goff was frank about Senate Bill 1045’s aspirations. Describing a “common theme around accountability” from community groups contacted by the governor, Goff quoted the Systemic Risk Audit produced by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan in 2022: “Division 22 standards (the current enforcement tool available to ODE) lack clarity and enforceability.”
SB 1045’s -2 amendments, which even committee members had little time to review before the hearing, would add some teeth. The bill would:
- Repeal current law relating to the way districts are considered compliant and would replace it with a structure of standard, nonstandard and conditionally standard school districts and education service districts.
- Beginning with the 2024-25 school year, require the State Board of Education to establish standards so the Oregon Department of Education can determine if a school district is standard, nonstandard or conditionally standard. This would include annual monitoring and reviews.
- Require districts to prepare corrective action plans, require ODE to review those plans, and require districts to address corrective action plans within timelines established by ODE.
- Require ODE to take enforcement actions against districts that fail to correct deficiencies, which could include withholding non-State School Fund and Student Investment Account money, directing expenditures relating to deficiencies, filing complaints with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission and designating school districts as high needs districts for purposes of the Student Success Act’s intensive program.
- Beginning July 1, 2023, it would repeal the ability of local school district boards to independently adopt textbooks and other instructional materials, instead requiring school districts to use a list of materials approved by the State Board of Education.
This bill version represents a permanent shift away from local control toward centralized control and enforcement by the State Board of Education and ODE.
OSBA opposed the measure, saying the bill represented a “seismic shift” away from local control. Locally elected school board members are in a better position to respond to the needs of their education communities than an appointed board in Salem.
The Coalition of Oregon School Administrators also opposed the bill, citing concerns including the measure’s lack of support for school districts. Morgan Allen, COSA deputy executive director of policy and advocacy, described the bill as heavy on “systems of compliance or punishment.” The bill doesn’t give ODE “any tools and technical support and professional development and coaching” to help districts avoid compliance problems.
Discussion, including committee responses, was mixed. Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, referenced a potential federal intervention stemming from a lawsuit.
“As we sit on the precipice” of that potential intervention, she said, they need feedback about how to address these concerns.
Committee Chair Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, made clear his desire for more oversight.
“Without a doubt, we need to have the compliance mechanisms to deal with egregious and immediate problems,” he said.
The bill is still a work in progress, with new amendments coming.
OSBA will continue to work with stakeholders and legislators on potential amendments. SB 1045 is scheduled for a work session Thursday, March 30, in the Senate Education Committee.
Budget Callout: The Legislature has made its State School Fund intentions public. Now the public can let the Legislature know what it thinks.
A state budget framework released this last week proposed $9.9 billion for the K-12 public education fund. Education advocates have told legislators that $10.3 billion is necessary for most school districts to avoid cuts.
Until now, state budget discussions have revolved around several possible amounts. Public hearings in the Capitol and meetings around the state will give local education officials a chance to share with legislators what $9.9 billion will mean for students.
“We want to keep doing what we are doing, and if they stay at 9.9, we won’t be able to,” said La Grande School Board member Bruce Kevan. “That’s the bottom line.”
Legislative Highlights has offered a weekly explanation of the State School Fund process, “Funding Oregon’s Future.” With the framework’s declarations, the process is entering a more active debate.
House Bill 5015, the State School Fund bill, had its first public hearing today, March 27. Kevan submitted testimony.
Kevan said last week that La Grande has been able to add “marvelous” offerings for students, such as expanded career and technical education, in recent years. That all comes crashing down, he said, if the Legislature doesn’t adequately maintain the State School Fund or if it dips into the funds coming from the High School Success Fund and the Student Success Act.
Kevan is the Eastern Region representative on the OSBA Legislative Policy Committee, a key education voice in the Legislature and communities.
Lori Sattenspiel, OSBA Legislative Services director, said it’s crucial for legislators to hear from local elected officials about the real cuts that would come from a $9.9 billion State School Fund.
“It’s important to show the needs in your area,” Sattenspiel said. “That’s how legislators prioritize who gets the money.”
On Thursday, the Joint Ways and Means Committee co-chairs released a budget framework. Besides pegging the State School Fund at $9.9 billion, the framework provides indications of the Legislature’s broader education funding goals.
The framework contends $9.9 billion is a $400 million increase to the “current service level,” the amount needed for schools to maintain current programs and staff. Education advocates say the state’s CSL calculations are flawed, relying on past trends. School business officials say $10.3 billion is reflective of contracts and cost increases school districts are reporting now.
The framework names education as a priority and attaches additional money to literacy, although it’s not clear yet if the funding will be sufficient to meet any new education requirements. The framework also uses the $1.5 billion corporate tax kicker refund to shore up the State School Fund. That leaves bills gasping for air that would have used that money for education issues such as facilities improvement or workforce shortages.
In general, the framework is pulled between tighter state resources and crises afflicting Oregon.
“By funding the SSF at $400 million over CSL and early investments in housing and semiconductor funding, we have really minimal resources available for any other bills, regardless of topic,” said committee Co-Chair Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Beaverton, on Friday.
The Way and Means Committee will be holding budget-focused public hearings in Portland, Newport, Roseburg and Ontario, starting April 8. Sattenspiel encourages school board members to sign up to explain their needs; signup links are expected to be posted soon.
Sattenspiel expects legislators to wait to hear the state revenue forecast in May before settling on a final State School Fund number. She also says the budget has room for legislators to increase school funding while addressing issues such as early learning and workforce shortages.
Education advocates, though, want to make sure those bills’ costs are covered with additional State School Fund money or other funding sources.
“Unfunded directives from the Legislature, however well-intentioned, just erode schools’ ability to take care of students’ basic needs,” Sattenspiel said.
OSBA Board President Sonja McKenzie was among the witnesses today in the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee hearing. A Parkrose School Board member, she let them know that at $9.9 billion her district would be cutting staff for special education, nutrition, transportation and maintenance.
Jackie Olsen, Oregon Association of School Business Officials executive director, projects that the majority of school districts would have to cut programs, staff or days at $9.9 billion.
She would like to see stable funding from the Legislature to avoid big hiring and firing swings that disrupt students’ education and hurt staff morale.
“I know that $9.9 billion is not enough to meet the needs of our districts,” Olsen said.
By Advocate Staff, with statehouse analysis of Gov. Kotek’s school boards bill and the budget bill from Oregon School Board Association staffers, Richard Donovan and Jake Arnold respectively.