As students head back to class in Oregon this week, education leaders are anticipating continued funding challenges while academic requirements get more and more stringent.
Former Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey has served on the 4J School board for 8 years. And is chair of the board this year. He took his granddaughter to school for freshman orientation.
Torrey: "As we were driving to school, I said, well are you all ready to go to high school? And she said, boy, I'm really nervous. And I said, well, you should be. But hopefully, this will be a great experience."
Torrey says expectations for high school students are much higher than they've ever been.
Torrey: "The mandated graduation requirements mean that we have to start at the earliest possible age to prepare these kids to go all the way up to high school and beyond."
Next year, the Oregon legislature will require and fund full-day kindergarten. Torrey worries that could mean less money for other grades. Oregon has the 2nd lowest graduation rate in the country. Torrey says the failure of the state's districts to provide students with diplomas means we haven’t lived up to our responsibility to our kids.