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Lawmakers advance bill to shore up school funding in wildfire areas

Andy Nelson
The Register-Guard
The Holiday Farm Fire swept through several communities along the McKenzie River in eastern Lane County in September, 2020.

Oregon lawmakers are advancing a bill that’s meant to help school districts in areas ravaged by wildfires.

The measure would ensure that the district’s state funding is based on the number of students it had prior to the 2020 fires.

Democratic Representative Pam Marsh of Ashland said the Phoenix-Talent School District stands to lose millions in state funding after hundreds of homes, including many homes where students live, were destroyed in the Almeda fire in September, 2020.

Since funding is pegged to the number of students actively attending a district, a loss of students translates to a loss in state funding.

“A significant budget cut at this very vulnerable moment would be disastrous for the districts and communities they serve," said Marsh.

The measure would also help districts affected by the Echo Mountain Fire in Lincoln County, the Holiday Farm Fire in Lane County, and the Beachie Creek Fire in eastern Marion and Linn Counties.

House Bill 4026 passed the House unanimously and will now be considered by the Oregon Senate.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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