WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Members of the Oregon School Boards Association are in Washington D.C. to discuss educational priorities with lawmakers. Cheri Helt, with the Bend-La Pine School Board, is looking forward to meeting with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) Tuesday morning, and Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Tuesday afternoon. Helt says, "One of my personal top priorities is the Secure Rural Schools Act, which is very important to the state of Oregon since we have so much federal forestland, and that helps us fund schools. Currently, this year, it hasn’t been put into a bill so we won’t be getting funds. But, in the past, it’s been up to $500 million for the nation." Dr. Doug Nelson, with High Desert ESD, is also at the Capitol.
The conference is part of an annual trip organized by the National School Boards Association. "We will be the first people to talk to the new administration and the new Congress about education, so that’s an exciting thing, and to remind them that kids matter and we need to have kids at the top of mind when they’re making legislation," Helt tells KBND News. She says she’s pleased to have received clarity and assurances from Trump Administration officials regarding the Every School Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. "It does look like the new administration will go forward in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act; that’s what we’ve been hearing from legislators. So, we’re very hopeful to get some flexibility from the federal government around assessments and what is required of states as far as reporting. That’s really excited news, for us to be able to lay our vision forward for our local districts."