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Think Out Loud

The Future of Outdoor School

Pete Springer/OPB

For decades, sixth graders in many Oregon school districts have gone to Outdoor School for a week to learn about soil, plants and animals. Portland Public Schools is looking at cutting funding for the program this year. Superintendent Carole Smith recommended the cut, along with eliminating 110 teacher positions and many other belt-tightening measures. In the past, passionate Outdoor School supporters have raised funds to keep PPS kids in the program. 

Other districts including David Douglas have also cut funding for Outdoor School, prompting parents and community members to find alternative sources of funding. Some say this is a reason to consider cutting district funding for the program — because it can be funded through other means.

If you or your children took part in Outdoor School in previous years, what did you get from the experience? What would be lost if it were cut completely?


  • Kotie Threlkeld: Senior at Trillium Charter School and student leader at Outdoor School
  • Dan Prince: Coordinator of Multnomah ESD Outdoor School
  • Pam Knowles: Co-chair of the Portland Public School board and executive director for industry relations at the OSU College of Business
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