Oregon lawmakers are considering bills to provide statewide funding for Outdoor School programs.

Outdoor School is usually a budget item for local school boards. With a bill in front of legislators, advocates like Beaverton fifth-grader Ben Bowser have been in Salem.  

“I’m a good student, but I’ve never really liked school very much. I think it’s boring,” Bowser said. “But Outdoor School wasn’t boring at all. My parents say it’s the first time they’ve ever seen me really excited about school.”  

Former Metro councilor Rex Burkholder helped fund Portland-area programs with regional garbage fees. He says a similar move at the state level could help provide $22 million for statewide support.  

“We are confident that we’ll get some bill out. We hope we’ll get sufficient funding that we’ll solve this problem for good,” Burkholder said.

Advocates are trying to avoid competing for limited general-fund dollars. One suggestion is to use unclaimed bottle deposit money, currently held by beverage distributors.