Be an Advocate For Student Vision Screening

Hank Calhoun
Board Chair

If it’s an odd numbered year, then it’s an Oregon Legislative year – which means we’re asking your help again to advocate for the student vision screening fund for the Oregon Department of Education.

We get asked some very good questions about the ODE Student Vision Screening Fund, here is a sampling:

Q: Lions hear a lot about the state funding for Oregon vision screening, does that money go to the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation?
A: No, the funding that has been authorized at the Oregon Legislature since 2017 is funding that goes to the Oregon Dept, of Education and is made available to ALL public schools in Oregon. Schools may apply for reimbursement for costs that they incur for working with pre-approved screening organizations to provide state mandated screenings.

Doug Thompson
Executive Director

Q: Why does OLSHF and Lions advocate for this funding?
The role of advocacy for funding for student vision screening helps to fulfill OLSHF’s mission of “To screen, treat, save, and restore sight and hearing, in partnership with Lions Clubs, for those in need.” Additionally, the Foundation has been approved as a qualified provider of vision screenings in Oregon public schools and screens students accurately and efficiently. By contracting with OLSHF, Oregon schools are able to stretch the ODE funding much further than a for-profit screening organization.

Q: Does it make sense to advocate for state funding for student vision screening when most schools are not providing classroom learning right now?
The advocacy effort that is taking place currently will provide funding for Oregon schools for school years 2021-22 and 2022-23. We anticipate that more schools will be returning to the classroom in the Fall of 2021 and that next school year we will be able to screen in excess of 150,000 students (compared to the 182,000 that we screened during the 2019-20 school year).

Q: What can our Lions Club do to support the effort to renew the ODE Student Vision Screening Fund?
We’re glad you asked! Currently, the ODE Fund is included in the Governor’s budget for the 2021-2023 biennium. But things can change, and in an uncertain economy we are introducing Senate Bill 222 in case the Governor’s budget is affected by a bleak revenue forecast in May.

Search online for “find my legislator Oregon” or go to www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html and send an email to your State Representative and State Senator and ask for them to support SB 222. Your email or phone call can be as simple as “I am a Lion and a constituent of __ and I believe that students have a better chance at being successful in school if they can see well. Please support SB 222 and ensure that all Oregon students have access to vision screening.”

Please let us know if YOU have questions about student vision screening in Oregon or how the ODE Student Vision Screening Fund works, you can contact Doug at DougT@OLSHF.org – we appreciate any comments or questions that you have!

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