by Chuck Bennett, Director of Governmental Relations
It’s been about three weeks since official publication of the statutes
passed by the 2011 Session and we’re getting a look at the new laws
being planned for the 2012 Session. So, what does the
“don’t-let-the-ink-dry” pace of legislating hold for education when
lawmakers reoccupies the statehouse in Salem? Here’s a look behind the
- The newsiest new laws will revolve around Gov. Kitzhaber’s education
re-do outlined in the last Session. That set of changes created the
Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) headed by a new education CEdO
and set out a wholesale revamping of education policy based on an early
childhood to moving out of your parents’ basement after graduate school
model most often labeled “P-20.”
Next month’s Session will begin hanging drywall on the studs (I like this metaphor better than meat on the bones). The bill,
which won’t have a number until Feb. 1, mainly specifies the CEO’s role
in managing early childhood, K-12, community college and higher
education policy and existing structures like the State Board of
It also sets out the statutory structure of the “achievement compacts”
that will be arrived at between local school boards and the OEIB. The
new law describes the categories of outcomes to be contained in the
compacts, directs school boards to identify targets for the outcomes,
requires communications with key constituencies during development of
the compacts and exempts school districts from any penalties for not
meeting compact targets.
-The Legislature also will consider a series of mandate relief issues in another piece of legislation.
This proposal takes on a series of mandates including elimination of a
number of data collection requirements and designation of designated
activity or instructional programs like Arbor Day, Women’s History and
Oregon Statehood weeks.
- It’s predictable that there would be a catch-all bill that takes on a
whole batch of issues in education. Remember, each legislator was
limited to two bills and committees to only five for the February
Session. With that kind of tight limit, one strategy is to load up one
bill with a lot of issues. This Session it will be the Omnibus Education Bill.
Here’s a short list of the proposals currently in the bill but be
advised that legislation like this one has a tendency to grow as issues
are identified that need a vehicle out of the Session: Allows ESD board
members from districts that withdraw from the ESD to retain their seats;
requires kids 5 or 6 years old, who are enrolled in public school to
maintain regular attendance; requires the State Board of Education to
encourage increased learning time; makes some minor changes in charter
school proposal requirements and in the process for renewal or
termination of them; extends the deadline for implementing model core
teaching standards; removes the authorization for ESDs to provide
entrepreneurial services and facilities to public and private entities.
- No Session would be complete without the creation of another task
force. February will be no exception. This time it will be in the Virtual School Governance Bill.
The bill is fairly simple. The Legislature wants a group of
legislators, virtual school managers, parents, and one education
professional to take on how to govern on-line education. If this sounds
familiar – it’s been tried before and apparently the answers from
previous groups haven’t passed political muster.
- The scandal over the past several months like the Sandusky affair at Penn State have prompted a proposal
to extend who is a person required to report child abuse to higher
education. It also will extend the mandatory reporter requirement to
certain volunteers in K-12 schools. This bill is likely to grab a lot of
news attention because of its relationship to national headlines.
- There also will be a substantial bil
l dealing with cost savings by modifying certain aspects of the PERS
system. Here’s a quick overview of its provisions: it is confined to
school employees; authorizes the PERS board to establish a guaranteed
interest rate for crediting member accounts of school employees that is
lower than assumed interest rate; provides that Tier 1 and Tier 2 school
employees cease to be members of individual account programs on
effective date of act; allows school employees who are already members
of individual account programs to continue as members but prohibits
further employee contributions to the accounts; requires the PERS board
to create school employee accounts for members who is school employees;
limits cost-of-living adjustments to $2,000 of retirement allowance,
pension or other benefit payable to or on behalf of school employees;
imposes limits on total retirement benefits payable to school employees
to 100 percent of their final average salary, and reduces the limit to
90 percent for members who retire on or after January 1, 2017, and to 80
percent for members who retire on or after January 1, 2022; provides
that the limit does not reduce retirement allowance or pension of a
member as calculated immediately before the limitations are imposed; and
it creates the School Savings Account and rate stabilization
This is will turn out to be only part of the of February bills effecting
education. There are likely to be more introduced by individual
legislators we haven’t seen yet.
There is likely to be a bill looking in some way at class size issues –
the most likely is a reporting requirement that would give policy makers
a look at the size of every classroom in the state on some given date
at some given time. This is being pursued by OEA. Another bill that has
been discussed at length is one limiting the 1039 rule on hours PERS
retirees can work before it effects there benefits. We are watching this
one closely and are concerned about its impact, particularly on smaller
districts and, of course, on Oregon retirees who are the only ones
effected by its provisions.
Please let me know any thoughts you may have on any of this or any other
legislation your read. I’ll be posting daily on Twitter at Twitter.com/COSALeaders and on Facebook at Facebook.com/COSALeaders throughout the legislative meeting.