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Sep-07-2009 22:29printcomments

New Equations for 'Back to School' in Oregon Today

Groups with links to oil, timber and banking companies, are trying to repeal a tax base for schools that raised corporate taxes only about $10 a year - and increased taxes on the wealthiest Oregonians.

Kids at chalkboard
Courtesy: theriver-club.com

(BEAVERTON, Ore. ONS) - Summer vacation is officially over, and today it's back to school for most Oregon public school students. Maureen Ruddy is a first-grade teacher at Rock Creek Elementary School, Beaverton, who spent the holiday weekend setting up her classroom.

Although she and other educators are excited about the first days of class, she says some uneasiness exists due to pressure to deliver good test scores when students will get less help because of budget constraints.

"We have a lot of support from other teachers, but we have lost a lot of our instructional aides through the funding shortfalls. So we're going to have to really turn to our parent community, give them some training and, hopefully, they can step in and really help us."

Among the challenges Ruddy sees this this year is class size. Some upper grades will see more than 30 students in a class, and extra help for students who fall behind will be tricky to find.

"Our school has an amazing, positive morale, even though we're smaller now because we've lost some staff members. The big change for us is we're not going to have reading specialists to work with emerging readers."

Ruddy also is a member of the Oregon Education Association, which has been following a movement to repeal last session's tax increases.

That tax package is widely credited with limiting the size of funding cuts for public schools and public safety, as well as for health care and care for people with disabilities and those over 65.

The backers of the repeal effort have been difficult to identify, but the Oregon Education Association reports they have links to oil, timber and banking companies.

The tax package raised corporate taxes - which for most corporations was only $10 a year - and increased taxes on the wealthiest Oregonians.

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Special thanks to Oregon News Service
Producer: Deb Courson
Reporter: Deborah Smith

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