Budget delivers for schools

Alan Bates

Sen. Alan Bates

For years, school districts in Southern Oregon and across the state have been forced to address budget shortfalls by shortening the length of the school year, laying off teachers, cutting art, music and after-school activities, and cramming students into larger classes. Needless to say, my No. 1 goal this session has been to increase funding for schools.

Last week we delivered on this priority by stabilizing our schools with a budget that reverses the trend of teacher layoffs and ballooning class sizes. The budget we passed adds $1 billion in new resources for schools, our strongest education budget in nearly a decade.

After the budget passed, I spent time on the phones with Phil Long and Juli Di Chiro, superintendents of Medford and Ashland school districts. Here’s the really good news: For the first time in a decade, Ashland is looking at a no-cuts budget. A similar story is playing out in Medford.

The budget passed last week allows schools in local districts to restore cut school days, hire back teachers and reduce class sizes. We’ve all heard — or seen — the horror stories of 50-plus class sizes, yet this budget allows Ashland schools to maintain realistic class sizes of 25 students.

Finally, we’re truly marking a turning point for Oregon schools. While there’s always more to do, I couldn’t be more proud to see this big reinvestment in schools paying off for Southern Oregon.

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