OAESD Legislative Report

The 2021 Session of the Oregon Legislature will begin on January 19, 2021. The Oregon Legislature consists of 90 members, 60 representatives in the House and 30 in the Senate. The 2021 Session will have 12 new House members and 6 new Senate members due to prior session members electing not to run again or being defeated in the November 3 election.

The 2021 Session will necessarily be different than has historically been the case. Expectations are that the Capitol itself will be closed, necessitating that the work of the Legislature will be done virtually. Due to bandwidth issues within the Capitol itself, Legislative committees will meet less frequently with limited personal or live testimony. There may also be a limit on the number of bills which are introduced. Within such limitations, any actual floor action on legislation will likely be delayed until later in the spring.

The most important task of the Legislature in any session is to adopt the biennial budget for the state. This action generally comes late in the session using the most up-to-date financial projections for state revenue. In the upcoming session, the state’s response to the continuing COVID pandemic from a statewide financial standpoint as well as supporting families during this time will be an extremely high priority. The Legislature will also be dealing with continuing responses to September’s wildfires. Finally, the Legislature will likely want to address issues relating to racial justice.

Oregon’s nineteen ESDs are dependent upon Legislative action in several ways relating to the adoption of the biennial budget. Foremost among these is that ESDs are allocated 4.5 percent of the State School Fund appropriation. These funds are distributed by ODE based on regional student enrollment to ESDs to fund the local service plans within each ESD. For the 2019-21 biennium, this amount was approximately $400 per student.

ESDs also receive funds allocated by the Legislature in other areas. These include funds for technical assistance for Oregon’s Student Success Act and program funds for early intervention/early childhood special education, high needs-low incidence special education and students in long-term care and treatment facilities. Such funds are included in the Legislative appropriation for the Oregon Department of Education and are available to ESDs as grants-in-aid for the designated programs.

The OAESD Governance Council appoints a 16-member Legislative Committee to monitor and respond to the interests of Association members during the Legislative session. This committee consists of 8 board members and 8 superintendents with appropriate geographic representation. The Legislative Committee works with Ozzie Rose, the Association’s designated lobbyist, for coordination of responses to Association concerns and interests during the Legislative session.

OAESD Equity and Racial Justice Task Force

The OAESD Governance Council has appointed a 19-member Task Force on Equity and Racial Justice. Following an earlier meeting of the Council, each member ESD was asked to select a board member or staff member to serve as their representative on this Task Force. The membership of the Task Force consists of four ESD superintendents, six board members and nine staff members. At least 51 percent of the members are black, indigenous or persons of color.

The Task Force work is being facilitated by Dr. Nancy Golden. Dr. Golden is currently the first Professor of Practice at the College of Education at UO. In this role, she aligns her years of experience in the field with world class researchers to impact Oregon’s graduation rate. A former special education teacher, Dr. Golden served as the superintendent for Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Oregon for ten years being named Oregon’s Superintendent of the Year in 2011. Dr. Golden also served as Educational Policy Advisor to the Governor and was selected as the Chief Education Officer for the state of Oregon, serving in that position until September 2015.

The work of the Task Force will be in two areas. The first will be to draft a position statement on equity and racial justice to guide the work of the Association. The work of the Association is being defined as including those structures and activities involving Association staff, councils, committees, conferences, and meetings. The Association’s statement on equity and racial justice will become a way to prioritize and focus the collective work of the Association on equity and racial justice.

The second purpose of the Task Force is to provide concrete recommendations for actions by the Association in support of individual ESDs. More specifically, what do the members of the Association need from the Association to advance their own equity and racial justice work? It is anticipated that as part of their work, the Task Force will develop a list of resources and identify various supports for local ESDs in their journey to advance equity and racial justice within their respective agencies.

The Task Force will meet twice in December and as necessary in 2021 to successfully accomplish the work. The goal is to provide the Governance Council recommendations in the two areas by April 1. Both the Association’s Superintendent and Governance Councils will have opportunities to review the work and provide input at their January and February meetings.

HB3427, Section 36-School Safety and Prevention System: A New Statewide Initiative

The School Safety and Prevention System (SSPS) promotes emotional success for students. The SSPS systems uses a multi-tiered framework with an emphasis on protected classes, historically, traditionally, and currently underserved students and youth by matching increasing levels of culturally and linguistically responsive support to empower students to meet their needs and goals. ESDs provide a network of eleven regional specialists to work directly with school districts to establish and provide training and consultation for a comprehensive school safety and prevention model. Each model will be centered on equity, racial equity, and access to mental healthcare and services. The model focuses on early identification and intervention by incorporating suicide prevention, behavioral safety assessment, access to the SafeOregon Tip Line, and harassment and bullying prevention.

OAESD partnered with the Oregon Department of Education throughout the initial design phase of the new initiative over the past year. This past Fall, ESDs were able to begin hiring SSPS Specialists, ODE released the SSPS Guidance, and the initiative officially was underway.
To date, nine of the eleven regional specialists have been hired, with interviews currently wrapping up for the remaining two positions. Weekly convenings of the Specialists with OAESD and ODE as well as monthly OAESD convenings have begun. Additionally, a mini-series of half-day professional collaboration opportunities have been designed and are being co-facilitated by ODE and OAESD. The Specialists are currently focused on designing their Regional Annual Plans, establishing connections with regional school districts, and exploring regional prevention resources available through ESD programs and community-based organizations. Additionally, Specialists are collaborating with ESD Student Success Act Liaisons to explore alignment opportunities for community and school district engagement. Soon after the start of the new year, Specialists will engage in a series of prevention-area specific training in preparation for leading training opportunities for school districts. With such trying times further exacerbating the emotional and mental health needs of Oregon’s students, the SSPS’s arrival could not be more needed.

Click on the picture below to view the 2021 OAESD Executive Summary!

OAESD Executive Summary
Oregon Association of Education Service Districts is a partnership between: Clackamas, Columbia Gorge, Douglas, Grant, Harney, High Desert, InterMountain, Jefferson,Lake, Lane, Linn Benton Lincoln, Malheur, Multnomah, North Central, Northwest Regional, South Coast, Southern Oregon, Wallowa, and Willamette Education Service Districts.