The topic of educational issues fueled a feisty discussion at a District 52 town hall meeting Thursday.

State Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, led the meeting, fielding concerns from parents, teachers and community members.

Julie Barrett, a reading specialist for Welches Elementary School and mother of two children in the district, offered a metaphor that resonated with the room and captured the tone of the evening.

'We're cutting to the marrow, and the marrow is being depleted,' Barrett said, referring to state budget cuts and their effect on school districts such as Oregon Trail.

Johnson responded that Oregon did not get into this financial situation overnight and won't get out of it overnight.

'If we're going to work on education, we have to operate as a business model,' Johnson said.

The meeting was held at Hoodland Fire District to discuss policies developed during the recent legislative session that affect local schools; hear concerns from local residents about K-12 and high education; and let local residents express their opinions about state forest management and preservation.

For extended coverage of the forum, visit

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