More school days in Oregon? Panel considers idea

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) β€” Among the policy ideas lawmakers are considering for Oregon's troubled education system are longer school years, limited class sizes and more access to state subsidized preschool.

The Statesman Journal reports that since January, the Joint Committee on Student Success has been meeting with educators, families and business leaders across the state to figure out what is going well in schools, and what isn't. The bipartisan panel is made up of 14 legislators.

The primary task of the committee is to address Oregon's four-year graduation rate, which, at 77 percent, is the third lowest in the country.

From a lack of diverse staff and social-emotional learning opportunities, to unsafe buildings and scarce mental health services, the committee quickly found there are myriad factors influencing students' success in- and outside the classroom.

"We are really at a crossroads that we either fix it or we spiral into a really negative place," said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, co-vice chairman of the joint committee. "If one thinks there are issues in schools today, it can be much worse if we don't act."

Preliminary policy recommendations from the committee were made public this week β€” including some specific funding recommendations the would total in the hundreds of millions β€” but they are expected to change significantly before the start of the 2019 legislative session in January.

Ultimately, the committee plans to get more of the ideas priced out and release a report on their key findings and refined recommendations, then provide a comprehensive bill for the upcoming session.

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