Jan. 19, 2019 — At the Siuslaw School District Board meeting on Jan. 16, board members conducted the meeting under a banner reading “School Board Super Heroes” — the theme for this year’s Oregon School Boards Association’s (OSBA) School Board Appreciation Month. Cut-out masks, comic book style word effects and custom art by Siuslaw students also greeted the board.
Siuslaw Elementary Principal Michael Harklerode read Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s January 2019 School Board Recognition Month proclamation on behalf of Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak, who was absent for the meeting.
“Locally elected boards fulfill leadership roles and serve as the conduit through which teachers, parents, businesses and communities demonstrate the care, creativity and support that lead to student achievement,” Harklerode read. “Board members build the framework that makes it possible for education organizations to teach Oregon’s children.”
Brown’s proclamation reported that Oregon has 197 school districts, 19 education service districts and 17 community colleges.
“The committed men and women who serve on the boards deserve recognition and thanks for their dedication to the education needs of the people of Oregon,” the proclamation finished.
To show the community’s appreciation for the school board, Siuslaw district staff put together a small reception to go along with the artwork and thank you cards prepared by students.
“Thank you,” Harklerode told the board directly. “This is a thankless task — well, we’re thanking you now — so it’s nice to have a once-a-year event to show our appreciation. Thank you for all that you do and the time and dedication you put toward taking care of the staff and students of this district.”
Board President Suzanne Mann-Heintz then thanked the students and staff who put together the reception.
Additional education edicts were also included on the agenda.
“Jan. 24 is the International Day of Education. That’s a UN holiday that was proclaimed several years ago,” Mann-Heintz said.
She then read a proclamation detailing the district’s commitment to providing inclusive and equitable quality in education at all levels; providing lifelong learning opportunities that help people to acquire the skills and knowledge they need; and providing children and youth with a nurturing, safe environment for the full realization of their rights and capabilities.
“Now therefore be it resolved that I, Suzanne Mann-Heintz, as chair of the Siuslaw School District board, do hereby proclaim Jan. 24, 2019, as International Day of Education in Siuslaw School District 97-J and encourage all families, organizations and businesses to recognize that education plays a key role in the building of sustainable and resilient societies,” she read.
The third agenda item in support of education was a resolution that read like a call to action as Siuslaw School District pledged to support OSBA’s “Oregonians for Student Success” campaign. The resolution shows the district’s support of education funding to the level recommended by the Quality Education Model.
According to the staff report, “This is the year we join with our legislative leaders to restore adequate and stable school funding in Oregon. By passing a resolution in support of the ‘Oregonians for Student Success’ campaign, our school board will send a clear signal to local legislators that the 2019 session cannot end without meaningful revenue reform and funding our schools to the Quality Education Model.”
The report listed a three-decade lapse in funding for Oregon’s schools that has led to reduced staffs, shortened school years and unattainable achievement rates.
“The Quality Education Model has consistently defined what a high-quality educational system should look like for Oregon students, but the legislature has never provided the funding to meet it. … We believe funding a strong system of public education is the best investment Oregonians can make to strengthen our economy, create thriving communities and improve the quality of life for every Oregonian,” the school board’s resolution reads.
The report acknowledged that there has been recent progress in achievement, as well as reinvestments in education funding, “but funding momentum is fragile due to looming costs increases related to health care and PERS.”
Resolution # 011619-8(b), “Oregonians for Student Success,” concludes, “Now therefore, be it resolved, that the Siuslaw School District Board of Education pledges to join and support the efforts of ‘Oregonians for Student Success’ campaign to ensure that Oregon’s lawmakers prioritize investments to improve the educational outcomes for Oregon’s greatest natural resource: our children.”
The five present members of the school board voted in favor of the resolution, which will now be sent to the OSBA.
For more information on “Oregonians for Student Success,” OSBA is holding a Lane County Town Hall on State School Funding on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at the Lane Education Service District in Eugene. Additional details are available at oregoniansforstudentsuccess.org.