Last week, we reported that state lawmakers are looking to budget $9.9 billion for the State School Fund, which sounds like a big number until one starts calculating for inflation and such. School district administrators from around the state say anything under $10.3 billion will mean budget cuts.
Here in Corvallis, we’re looking at a double-whammy for school budget cuts. Our fair burgh’s population of school age children is declining, and the state’s school funding is tied to enrollment numbers.
Also, like other districts, our schools need to flow resources to assist students with post-pandemic educational fallout just as emergency funding has dried up. Our school district does maintain some rainy day reserves, but the enrollment decline is probably a long-term problem – so that’s not a permanent fix.
Depending on what the district determines it can prudently use from its reserves next year, our community could be looking at an education shortfall somewhere between $2 and $6 million. Putting this into even harder terms, members of the Corvallis Education Association disclosed that 50 district staffers may be laid off come next year.
If the State School Fund gets what most experts believe is required, much of this shortfall can be avoided.
Here’s How You Can Help: If this situation concerns you, email, phone or snail mail our area’s statehouse representatives, and let them know you care about this. To contact our State Senator, Sara Gelser Blouin, click here. To contact our State House Representative, Dan Rayfield, click here.
Reporting on this last week, we quoted Oregon School Boards Association Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel when she said, “Be ready to advocate.”
It’s go-time, state lawmakers could decide on this as early as next week.
And Now, On to Tastier Topics: After some delay, Spring has leapt from its perch on our calendar and into the air, and we are spending a little more time outdoors and away from home – which means more restaurant eating.
But, we didn’t want to eat just anywhere. So we grabbed ourselves some tips from the voraciously happy foodies at Corvallis Culinary Connections – and among their membership that have kiddos, a menu of favorite choices quickly emerged (yes, menu of choices, just couldn’t help it, sorry not sorry).
Without further ado, here’s some local favorites from the folks that would know….
Tacovore. By the time you slather the basic item with the necessary add-ons, you’ll spend somewhere between $6 or $9 here – and according to a particular kiddo that was totally randomly chosen from our table, “We should come back here.” Your humble narrator agrees – quite delicious.
Sky High Brewing. Sometimes mama needs a beer and a rooftop, and what the kids get out of the deal is traditional fare well served. $8.95 scores a choice of cheese burger, chicken burger or chicken strips – or even that most traditional of standbys, grilled cheese.
Common Fields. It’s food trucks on an asphalt field, and the advantage is, a choice of menus. The Kalamate Bistro truck has a $5 kids menu: Pita and a choice of hummus and sliced cucumbers, or rice bowl with a choice of chicken or falafel and sliced cucumbers. The Black Forest truck has a $6 kids menu: Spaetzle with cheese, or Mini Schnitzel Bites.
Not locally owned, but Oregon owned with a location in Corvallis….
Pastini. More choice than the usual kid’s menu – four of them pasta, and one of those is the forever classic mac ‘n’ cheese. If your kiddo isn’t feeling the pasta when you go, there’s chicken fingers and pizza bread. Kids dining in can get a free American soda or milk. Also, at $6 to $6.50, their kid’s menu isn’t just a favorite with kids, it’s also easy on the budget. Side salads are only $2, and a side of chopped broccoli is only $3. Also, don’t mistake the low prices for lack of value – the food here is an Advocate staff favorite, and the service is always awesome.
Laughing Planet. We haven’t met anyone adult sized that doesn’t like this place, and among our littles this place is a favorite, so it was heartening to see the area foodies at Corvallis Culinary Connections tossing some respect on this choice. Too many kid’s menu choices to list here, but think mini adult menu, and you’ll be about right. Mostly in the $4 to $6 range. Also, outside the kid’s menu, they have mini burritos and tacos ranging from $4.50 to $8.
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.
Topics covered include
- Anatomy of the pregnant person, end of pregnancy, signs, and stages of labor
- How to handle discomfort during labor, medicated & non medicated comfort measures
- Positions for pushing, how support people can help, ways to increase the probability of a safe and healthy birth
- What to expect when you get to your birthing location, hospital facilities & procedures
- Care of the birthing person and the baby in the first hours, days, and weeks
- Hospital procedures for the infant
- Breastfeeding and other methods of feeding baby
- Behavior of the infant; crying, calming
- Car seat safety
- Postpartum mood disorders
Classes are at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, weekly on Tuesday evenings 6:00 – 8:15pm, May 2-23, 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. Please contact Maternity Coordinator Mary Jackson at 541-768-6908 for details. Click here for more information or to register,
These classes are supported by the Center of Women and Families at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
Sometimes You Can Do the Small Thing: Oregon foster children often stow their belongings in plastic garbage bags when they are shuffled from one home to the next.
Advocates and lawmakers want Oregon to end the practice, saying the trash bags send a message to vulnerable children that they are garbage. Senate Bill 548 would require the Oregon Department of Human Services to maintain luggage for foster children and submit an annual report to the Legislature with the number of times they use trash bags when moving.
Children in the state’s system move an average of 5.3 times every 1,000 days, which is worse than the federal standard of 4.1 times. In 2021, 8,620 Oregon children were in the state’s foster care system, according to an Oregon Department of Human Services report.
Children enter foster care for a variety of reasons, including parental abuse, neglect or other trauma. Some children are in the system until they reach adulthood, while others are reunited with their parents.
“The only person who will be impacted here will be the child who carries their life in a trash bag,” said Seema Steffany, founder and president of Project Never Again, an Oregon nonprofit that provides duffel bags to the state’s foster children.
The bill, which has passed the Senate with bipartisan support, was discussed Monday in the House Committee on Early Childhood and Human Services. The bill needs a committee vote and subsequent vote in the House.
Rep. Lily Morgan, R-Grants Pass and one of the measure’s chief sponsors, has worked as a 911 dispatcher and probation and parole officer.
She told the committee she has visited homes when caseworkers removed children and their belongings, usually grabbing a plastic bag – the only thing available.
“No child should feel that their value is defined by a plastic bag or a trash bag,” Morgan said.
Other chief sponsors are Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro; and Rep. Anna Scharf, R-Dallas.
A spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Human Services, which runs the state’s foster care program, declined to comment on the bill or its practices. The agency hasn’t weighed in on the measure.
On Tuesday, the department issued a statement:
“It is a rare circumstance – and only when it is out of the department’s control – to transport a child’s belongings in a trash bag,” wrote Jake Sunderland, the department’s press secretary. “The Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division is committed to ensuring the dignity of all children and young people who are experiencing foster care. It is a best practice for case workers to be prepared with luggage or duffel bags for a (child’s) belongings when entering foster care.”
He said the child welfare manual calls for case workers to have duffel bags in their cars.
“Local offices across the state also are stocked with luggage and duffel bags and are using hundreds per year,” Sunderland said. “Community partners have stepped up with generous donations of bags, and (the department) purchases bags when needed.”
During the hearing, Steffany told lawmakers her organization approached the state agency about the issue in 2018 and the agency acknowledged the practice was prevalent. Officials said they wanted to stop it. However, after five years and “countless failed meetings, lack of communication and cooperation from child welfare,” the agency has not resolved the issue, Steffany said in submitted testimony.
“To my astonishment, I seem to have literally heard every excuse from child welfare employees and this even includes the leadership team,” she said.
Those excuses – sometimes contradictory – include: The agency doesn’t use trash bags, parents don’t provide luggage during removals and the agency lacks storage space, Steffany said in testimony.
“One of the biggest hurdles is the change in culture and mindset,” Steffany said in an interview with the Capital Chronicle. “It comes from the top down. I can’t really blame caseworkers because they are not the ones who should be going out buying bags.”
By Advocate staff, with statehouse reporting on SB 548 from Ben Botkin of Oregon Capital Chronicle