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State legislature bills may impact local schools

The Oregon State Legislature has been very active in recent sessions, approving several bills that may have a direct impact on Lake County School District #7, which includes the A.D. Hay/Fremont school, Union school, Daly Middle School, and Lakeview High School.

Multiple bills recently passed in Salem were presented to the School District #7 board meeting on Monday, March 10, by superintendent Sean Gallagher, as well as several bills that are still pending a final vote but could impact local schools.

State agencies such as the Oregon School Board Administration (OSBA) and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) are currently studying each bill, with the results of their research and potential implications to be published soon, to provide further clarity on the local impact.

Senate Bill 1506 passed unanimously through the state senate and house, enacting interstate compact on educational opportunities for military children. Currently a portion of the No Child Left Behind Act, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act ensures that homeless youth have equal access to public education. The same requirements are now being extended to children of military families.

“Homeless and military families tend to be transitory, this ensures that a student can stay at the same school for that whole year rather than changing schools multiple times because of the consistency factor, providing a more stable educational opportunity,” Gallagher explained.

House Bill 4087, a taskforce on school safety, relates to improving facility designs to limit access to school grounds in the interest of public safety. With many school buildings designed decades ago in a time long before school shootings such as Columbine or Sandy Hook were comprehensible, finding means of limiting access to school grounds for safety purposes and incident prevention poses an ongoing problem. With some of Lakeview’s school buildings nearly a century old, security and controlling people on school property is of prime concern.

While other funding, budgetary, and district transferring bills were passed, they will likely have little overall impact on Lake County schools. Gallagher warns that future debates in upcoming legislative sessions may become far more contentious, with the current 6.6 billion dollar budget lagging far behind the 8.3 billion needed to cover the current quality education model.

Also up for debate will be funding for full-day kindergarten starting with the 2015-16 school year. Currently School District #7 does fund full day kindergarten at the Union School on Westside, despite only receiving half-funding of average daily membership (ADM) reimbursement from the Oregon Department of Education.

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