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Readers sound off on funding Oregon's schools, state COVID-19 restrictions and electing a new PCC board member.

lettersLawmakers in Salem recently released their proposed education budget for the State School Fund, the operational budget for our schools. Experts recently found that if Oregon hopes to maintain current service levels for students, the operating budget must be $9.6 billion for the next biennium. The current proposed budget at $9.1 billion falls woefully short of that amount — a $500 million deficit that will directly affect students.

In 2019, the Legislature passed the Student Success Act, the boldest and most encompassing piece of education legislation passed in Oregon's history. It was an assurance that our schools would finally receive the funding they needed. With its proposed budget, the Legislature is asking schools to revise their expectations and determine what to cut. Teachers, staff, sports, clubs, after-school programs — all are at risk with this budget.

For many kids, extracurriculars are what keeps them coming back to school. If we cut robotics or the auto club or debate, what more are we asking our kids to face after a year of at-home learning during a deadly pandemic? It is difficult to say, but it's a question I desperately hope we don't have to answer.

I ask our lawmakers to fully fund education and approve a budget of $9.6 billion for the State School Fund. Please join me in urging legislators to keep their promise to our kids.

Helen Ying

Multnomah ESD board member

Southwest Portland

Lawmakers should fully fund our schools

The pandemic has taken a toll on our students over the past year-plus — particularly those living in poverty and in our Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. That is why it is more important than ever that Oregon focuses its attention and funding priorities on our K-12 schools.

Instead, legislators are considering underfunding the State School Fund by $500 million. School budget officials have concluded that just to keep pace on paying the bills over the next two years our schools need $9.6 billion — not the $9.1 billion currently under consideration.

Just two years ago our legislators took the bold step of passing the Student Success Act, designed to address inequities in our schools and provide greater resources to our historically underserved students.

Those same students cannot afford to face new inequities because we are not providing our schools with needed resources. After a year of unfinished education and increased social emotional challenges, investing in our kids is paramount.

Please join me in urging legislators to fully fund our schools at $9.6 billion.

Libra Forde

North Clackamas School Board

Oregon School Boards Association Board of Directors

Damascus

Indoor dining closures hurt local businesses

Gov. Kate Brown's latest round of restaurant indoor dining bans make this the fifth time Migration Brewing has had to completely change our business plans on a dime because of government-mandated closures and restrictions.

Restaurants, bars and taprooms like ours need certainty and stability from our local government in order to survive in this challenging time of the pandemic recession. Otherwise, more of our favorite places will permanently close.

Not being able to plan means we run out of things because we have to be leaner to avoid perishable orders going bad. It's an unwinnable guessing game. Staff and guests don't know what to plan on. Bars and restaurants have taken staff and guest safety very seriously and have implemented a number of screening and cleaning protocols.

People who are COVID fatigued now only have their homes or limited outdoor venues to gather where there are no protocols, just simply best practices which are less effective or secure.

COVID-19 closures and restrictions on indoor dining are devastating Oregon's restaurants. Prior to COVID-19, Oregon was home to more than 10,000 restaurants but because of the pandemic restrictions and closures, we've lost more than 1,000 of those local businesses.

These are places where you celebrated your 21st birthday, had your first date and grabbed a beer with your best friend. More indoor dining restrictions will result in more permanent closures of these local businesses that are a vital part of our lives and communities.

The governor should stop blaming restaurants when the largest outbreaks have been in churches and big business warehouses. Instead, we should focus on what we know will work — vaccinating all Oregonians.

Until then, local restaurants will continue to be the scapegoat and thousands of businesses and their employees will continue to suffer.

Colin Rath

Northeast Portland

Williams is right person for PCC board post

I am Hillsboro City Councilor Olivia Alcaire and I endorse my friend Reiko Mia Williams for PCC Board District 7.

Reiko is a tale of persistence and success. A Beaverton resident for 26 years, Reiko lives within walking distance to PCC Rock Creek campus.

Reiko is an educator, engaged community member, volunteer, and a single Black mother of three daughters. Reiko taught her daughters to be kind and positive, and to overcome barriers and succeed in college.

Reiko was inspired by her mother who studied to be a nurse. She lost her mother to cancer at the age of 12 and was cared for by family. Reiko encouraged her own daughters to succeed despite barriers. Reiko's credentials include two masters degrees (MSW and Ed Leadership), K-12 administrator license and is completing her EdD at PSU. Reiko is a K-5 principal.

Reiko's steady, transformative leadership benefits PCC students. Reiko believes in PCC's future. Reiko has the capacity to serve on PCC's Board and believes in community building across multiple PCC campuses and with community stakeholders to do what is best for students.

Reiko has expertise in administration, organizational development, college-level teaching and social justice advocacy. Reiko values the journey students take to meet college goals, especially students of color, immigrants, first generation, veterans and older students needing help with college processes.

Reiko's steady, transformative leadership benefits PCC student success. Vote for Reiko.

Olivia Alcaire

Hillsboro

Williams experience will serve PCC board well

Reiko Mia Williams is the best choice for our students and community.

A dedicated educator and transformational leader throughout the Portland area, she has a diversity of experience as a social worker, a college adviser at Portland Community College, and a school administrator.

These are exactly the experiences and qualities that the PCC board of directors needs, and why Williams should be the next director of Zone 7, which serves Hillsboro, Forest Grove, North Plains, Cornelius, Gaston, Vernonia and Banks.

As the current Zone 7 board director, I recognize the value of having a deep understanding of education and connection to the community you serve, and Williams' work demonstrates that.

Williams' experience as a leader in public schools makes her deeply aware of the vital relationship PCC has with local school K-12 districts. She knows that to re-build the economic vitality of our community and workforce, we need to leverage partnerships with businesses, local government and schools throughout the metropolitan area to close opportunity gaps and create living wages jobs for all Oregon of residents.

As Oregon recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams' professional and lived experiences will be a crucial asset to creating an equitable response to support the most marginalized students and communities.

Williams' leadership and diverse experience will strengthen the PCC board and deserves your vote this May 18th.

Alexander Diaz Rios

Southeast Portland


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