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Outdoor School Initiative Could Make 3 Education Measures On Oregon Fall Ballot


Supporters of the initiative petition to fund Outdoor School programs statewide submitted signatures June 30, 2016 in Salem.

Supporters of the initiative petition to fund Outdoor School programs statewide submitted signatures June 30, 2016 in Salem.

Chris Lehman/OPB

Over the last few weeks, politically active groups have handed in thousands of signatures to get their measures on the fall ballot. On Thursday, it was Outdoor School’s turn.

The initiative campaign to spend lottery money on Outdoor School programs says it has submitted 120,000 signatures or more. It needs a little more than 88,000 to appear before voters in November.

At a news conference in Salem on Thursday, supporters included former Metro councilor and state Rep. Rex Burkholder, as well as business representatives and educators. 

Centennial High School graduate Tana Barnett spoke as someone who attended Outdoor School as a sixth grader and worked as a junior counselor during high school.  

 

“Outdoor School is important. It’s important to me, to hosts of my friends, to our education system and to our state,” Barnett said. “It gives sixth-graders a light to carry them through the dark years of middle school. It gives high school students the opportunity to learn what it feels like to be looked up to.” 

Should it pass, the initiative promises to fund a full week of Outdoor School for 50,000 students and 3,000 high school counselors.

It would redirect 4 percent of lottery funds — or up to $22 million a year — away from economic development projects. That approach has drawn some criticism, including the opposition of Democratic state Sen. Betsy Johnson.

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