Eight members of the Brookings-Harbor Education Association (BHEA) — the union representing many of the district’s employees — attended the Oregon Education Association’s (OEA) “March for our Students” on Feb. 18.
“It was important to go and show students we support them in their needs,” said Kalmiopsis library technician Jenny King.
BHEA President Dane Tippman said members went to support the OEA’s goals of reducing class sizes, increasing funding equity for rural schools and adding support personnel and counselors to schools.
High school science teacher Tim King said OEA was also asking the state to increase funding levels to bring back music and arts programs and address a statewide increase in “room clears.”
Room clears occur when teachers or administrators empty a room of all students because a student has become disruptive or dangerous and teaching cannot continue.
Jenny King said schools needed more trained staff and counselors to meet increases in mental health needs. She noted that “even in a district like ours which is doing everything they can,” Kalmiopsis had large class sizes and one counselor for a student population of 727.
Kalmiopsis uses portable or modular classrooms for its kindergarteners, according to Jenny King, and said these should be replaced by adequate and safer classrooms within the school.
She felt deficiencies in facilities are the kinds of issues to be dealt with in the legislature, and she was advocating for improvements by marching.
Tim King and Tippman emphasized that no one was marching for increases in benefits or pay.
“We want to see more money go to improve student services, facilities and graduation rates,” Tim King said. “We need more programs outside of the core to engage students.”
Tippman said he wanted to meet Gov. Kate Brown during the time set aside for union presidents to speak with her and push for campaign reform.
“She took big corporate donations,” he said. “We need government that represents the people, people who are not swayed by corporate cash.”
The concerns addressed at the march needed to be dealt with above the district level, according to Tippman.
“We are not unhappy with our district,” he added. “But we went to Salem to gain improvements.”
He said he was proud BHEA represents 170 district employees “wall to wall,” meaning they represent other staff as well as teach ers.
OEA had asked educators and school personnel to “make Presidents Day count and show up for students.” It brought educators to Salem to march for education funding to address “huge class sizes and caseloads, room clears and missing support staff.”
The group will next host Lobby Day in Salem, March 25. It encourages educators to come to the capitol that day to meet with their legislators.
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