We have some good news.

Oregon’s legislative leaders from both parties have been talking with the Governor this week about the prospects of reaching a deal to reduce Oregon’s unfunded PERS liability by billions of dollars so that schools can reduce class sizes, lengthen school years and add back music, art, PE and other course offerings.

It’s a good thing too. Despite growing state revenues and a record level of funding for K-12, children across Oregon are facing shortened school years and larger class sizes. In Eugene, most students will only go to school for 165 days this year, five fewer than last year. In Forest Grove, some elementary school classes have more than 35 students.

Things are only going to get worse in 2015 and again in 2017 when the deferred PERS payments that the PERS Board and the legislature authorized come due. In fact, PERS actuaries predict that school district pension costs will rise to around 28% of payroll by 2019. That’s up from 14% in 2009. Across Oregon, each 1% increase in PERS payroll rates costs the same as hiring or keeping 309 teachers. It’s no wonder why Oregon kids face short school years and large class sizes even as we dramatically increase our investment in K-12.

We support efforts by leaders of both political parties to get a deal done this month. Do you?

Join the 2,500+ parents and community members who have already taken a stand. Sign the petition asking the Oregon Legislature to sit back down and come to a compromise:http://stand.org/oregon/action/iminforschools

Thank you. With all of us working together, we can make this happen.

What is the Oregon Business Plan?

The Oregon Business Plan is an effort by the state’s business leaders to create 25,000 new jobs across Oregon each year and raise Oregon’s per capita income above the national average. The Plan is a collaborative effort among several business leaders and business associations, developed in close partnership with Oregon’s elected leadership.

We envision achieving the Oregon Business Plan goals by growing diverse, thriving clusters of industries that are global leaders in product design and innovation. The strategy to boost these industries is to improve the conditions necessary for their success: talented people, greater productivity, pioneering innovation, and quality of place – what we call the “4Ps for Prosperity.” Learn more at www.oregonbusinessplan.org.