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On May 20, 2019, Governor Kate Brown signed into law HB3427, the Student Success Act (SSA). With a new business tax, this bill offers an additional $1 billion per year to fund public K-12 education. The new money must be spent in three areas: early learning, student investments, and statewide initiatives designed to find ways to reduce disparities in educational outcomes among student groups whose needs should and could be served more adequately in public schools.

 

One requirement of the law is that districts engage their communities in conversations about how to use this new support most effectively. Using the best evidence professionals can assemble and the deepest insights of local people, each district must come up with a defensible plan in order to be eligible for its share of the funding, awarded on a per-pupil basis.  Superintendents of the three metro area school districts and the director of the Early Learning Alliance will explain how they are gathering inputs and what they have learned so far from these community conversations.

 

Gustavo Balderas is the superintendent of Eugene School District 4J in Eugene, Oregon. He became the district’s 23rd superintendent in 2015. Dr. Balderas began his life as the child of migrant farm workers in eastern Oregon and developed his love of learning and passion for education in Oregon public schools, from kindergarten through his doctoral degree in educational leadership at the University of Oregon. He has worked as a teacher, counselor, school administrator, and superintendent in Oregon, California, and Texas.

Todd Hamilton is the superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. Hamilton joined the district in July 2019 following a national search. He began work as an elementary teacher in 1995 in Hermiston, OR.  Since then, he has also served in the departments of instructional technology, student services, curriculum, and staff development. He came to Springfield from Creswell, where he was superintendent for eight years. He earned a BA at UO and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Pacific University.

 

Chris Parra has been the superintendent of Bethel School District since 2016. Dr. Parra has had many experiences in both regular education and special education programming as an educator, including elementary and middle school teacher, elementary and middle school administrator, Director of Special Programs, and Deputy Superintendent. She earned an undergraduate degree at the Western Oregon University and a doctorate at the University of Oregon.

 

Bess Day is the Director of Education for United Way of Lane County, overseeing the work of the Lane Early Learning Alliance, Lane County’s early learning hub. Bess joined United Way in 2017 after a decade working in behavioral health research and app development. She has also been a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Bess earned a BA in Communications from Michigan State University and an MBA from Marylhurst University.