KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Klamath Falls City Schools were closed Wednesday. The superintendent said not enough staff would be in the classrooms and would instead be participating in the statewide Day of Action rally and showing their support for more funding for education. Teachers throughout the Klamath Basin didn’t quite stop teaching. They held what they called a Family Learning Expo to show families what could be done in the classroom if schools were fully funded. Stations were set up throughout the Klamath County Fairgrounds room with fun activities across a variety of subjects students would learn in school.
Elementary school students Kimberly Saucedo and Kloe Orozco spent their mid-week off day from school having fun at the Family Learning Expo. They said they had never done anything in their classrooms like what they did there.
"They're doing fun things but we can't do that in our schools because they aren't fully funded for it,’ said President-elect of the Klamath Falls Association of Classified Employees Dawn English. She’s also the Principal’s Secretary at Ponderosa Middle School. “Everything that we're doing here is we're trying to show if we were fully funded at the Quality Education Model this is what we could possibly offer our kids."
According to the Oregon Department of Education the Quality Education Model (QEM) is a data-driven tool that, among other things, estimates what funding is needed to meet the state's education goals.
"Every two years they write a report about why they aren't funding it and they've never funded it. This year we feel like there's a real opportunity to finally fund it at appropriate levels and start putting more money back into public education," said Response to Intervention Coordinator and Instructional Coach for Mills Elementary School Maureen Lundy. "Every single spring, right now, our school board and our administrators are scrambling to try and figure out how we can move the pot of money around to try and maintain what we have. It's always a battle and it shouldn't be that way. They have should have a solid funding source and they should be able to plan and fund appropriately. They just can't do it because it's always a moving target."
The parents that went to the event Wednesday said the Family Learning Expo was a great idea but there are some in the community who think shutting down a district and walking out of the classroom wasn't the way to fight for their kids' education.
"I'm saying we're walking in for our students. The people who have walked out are our Republican legislatures. They actually walked out and our hiding. We're not hiding. We're saying we're here for our children. We're here for education. We're here to get it funded," Lundy added.
For two days in a row, Republicans in the Oregon Senate haven’t shown up for the education tax vote the teachers are hoping pass.
"It's not for teacher's salaries or money in my pocket. It’s to help the kids to have a better future. We’re standing up for what we used to have and how schools used to be," said Henley Middle School science teacher Mark Nevala.
The teachers hope the Republican Senators change their minds.
The Klamath Falls City Schools will be open Thursday.