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The Impact – State Supt. Talks Test Scores, Timber, and New K-12 Programs

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

The fall season of The Impact kicks off with a back to school interview featuring the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal. Supt. Reykdal takes questions about several major changes he’s pitching for K-12 schools including his push to overhaul the link between timber revenue and school construction.

“If you harvest this money or you grow grapes or you generate revenue off of these lands in rural communities, keep the money in those rural communities,” said Reykdal. “The idea here is that the legislature is going to save a lot of money over the next 2 to 4 years because our school districts have been passing fewer bonds over the last couple of years. We’ve created some capacity in the capital budget. So the legislature could move these trust dollars to rural communities, backfill that matching program for our urban districts, and still save money over the next 2 to 4 years.”

Reykdal is also advocating for long term changes for the trust lands themselves and uses other than timber.

“Well, the trust lands by constitution and state law are dedicated to trust beneficiaries and in the case of my world, school districts, we have a common school trust. All that money goes into that. So we keep it in the trust. We keep it very much in line with the Constitution, the state law. But what has been abundantly clear from the courts is there are lots of ways to benefit those trusts. One of those is cash immediately when you harvest. We’re clearly trying to double the size of that bucket. But if you’re thinking about future revenue for those for those trust beneficiaries in those schools, is the future wind? Is it solar? Is it more growing of trees? All of those should be available and we do those things today. It’s just a reminder to everybody that the constitutional obligation is to the beneficiaries,” said Reykdal. “So I think school districts have to think about this. They have to think about what’s the best option. It might be commercial real estate long term.”

Other topics include Reykdal’s push to make dual-language education available to every student, making school food programs free to all students, and the drop in standardized test scores.

Watch the interview here:

Listen to the podcast on Spotify here: