State leaders will answer questions at Funding Forum

The public is invited to attend a State School Funding Forum on Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Mountain View Middle School, 17500 S.W. Farmington Road.

Speaker Michael Elliott from the Oregon Department of Education will present a PowerPoint presentation explaining how the state funds schools and what happened to public education.

It will be followed by a question and answer session with state Sen. Mark Hass, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, Rep. Tobias Read, Rep. Chris Harker and Rep. Jeff Barker on what we can do as a community and state to provide stable and adequate funding for our schools, including some type of tax reform.

“The story of this event, basically, is of great concern and worry for our children, teachers and the future of education,” said Linda Nezbeda. “I am a parent of three small children in Beaverton, ages 6, 5 and 3.

“Learning of the budget cuts last year, I started to ask myself why? I never picked up a newspaper before, so I had no idea of the mess in public education.”

Nezbeda joined forces with another mother of a middle school-aged daughter, Carla Stashin, and the two started to educate themselves on how schools are funded — learning about the funding formula, education service districts, federal grants, transportation reimbursement, Measure 5 and Measures 66 and 67.

They also started a group on Facebook called Beaverton Community for Education, which has created a support system from other parents in organizing public events like Tuesday’s forum, spreading the word, collecting donations of paper and ink for fliers, and talking to Parent/Teacher Organizations at schools.

This group asked state leaders to to help educate the community during Tuesday’s event. They held a similar public gathering in November at Aloha High School that attracted nearly 300 people.

“It was an amazing event — people had no idea of the complexity of the issue, and the event was very positive,” Nezbeda said. “As the legislators were leaving, we asked, ‘Can you do it again?’”

With more state leaders signing on to participate in this next forum, organizers hope even more members of the public will attend.

“We do this because on the topic of education, many people are misinformed; many people don’t even know the state funds public education,” Nezbeda said. “It stops progress, communication and moving forward with something positive.

“Our children, their class size, days, programs offered, etc., benefit the state in its entirety next year to 40 years from now. Our teachers are amazing — they do so much with little support, little pay and take on the greatest task of educating our kids. They deserve to be a priority, and be funded.”

Beaverton Community for Education invites others to join its public awareness effort.

“We would do anything to change the path of what our kids and teachers are going through,” Nezbeda said. “Organizing these events is a start to a possible change — at least we believe and hope it.”

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