SALEM — The fate of the Oregon Education Investment Board, the linchpin of former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s efforts to overhaul education spending, will soon be shaped by the Senate Education Committee.

The board recommended redirecting state spending, both new dollars and money from existing district funding formulas, to targeted education priorities that were in Kitzhaber’s original budget.

The teachers’ unions and districts didn’t like that, and with Kitzhaber gone and lawmakers determined to stick with the established state school fund, the board’s future may be cloudy at best.

Without action, the 12-member board — which is led by the governor — would end March 15, 2016.

A large group — legislators, lobbyists and other stakeholders — created by the committee chairman, Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, will soon weigh in with amendments to Senate Bill 215. He says the group, which averages more than 40, has meet three times “and we have had good conversations.”

The likelihood is that the board will continue in some form, but its authority over education spending may never again be as broad as it was when Kitzhaber led it. Unlike her predecessor, Gov. Kate Brown doesn’t want to pick fights with the teachers’ unions.

As proposed by Kitzhaber before he resigned, the bill would make the board permanent. Brown has said she respects the work of Nancy Golden, the state’s chief education officer and former Springfield schools superintendent. But Brown also says the board needs more educator voices, although she is not wedded to having them on the board itself.

The board’s current membership counts four educators: Presidents of the Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, a school superintendent (Yvonne Curtis of Forest Grove) and an education service district superintendent (Mark Mulvihill of Intermountain, based in Pendleton). Two others are former chairs of the Portland School Board, although not employed in education, and two more have been on state education boards.

OEA, the state’s largest teachers’ union, has been critical of some aspects of the superboard.

Brown’s education policy adviser is Lindsay Capps, who was the board’s chief of staff, and also has worked for OEA.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Insider newsletter. To subscribe, go to oregoncapitalinsider.com

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