Legislators updated on Student Success Act implementation
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
House Education Committee Chair Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, (left) and Vice Chair Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, listen Wednesday to an Oregon Department of Education presentation on the Student Success Act. Doherty has announced 2020 will be her last session. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
Student Success Act implementation is on legislators’ minds.
The House and Senate interim education committee meetings this week both featured updates on the 2019 act, which promises roughly $1 billion a year for preK-12 public education.
Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill testified in both meetings, along with leaders from Oregon Department of Education divisions tasked with act implementation.
The act allocates 50% of new money to the Student Investment Account, about $472 million in grants in July for school districts. The remaining money will be divided with 20% for the Early Learning Account and 30% for the Statewide Education Initiatives Account.
Gill refreshed legislators on the law’s basics, and his presentation detailed ODE progress on creating new programs and shifting existing programs for the law’s demands. ODE is adding 72 positions related to the act.
The Student Success Act helped significantly narrow the gap between what Oregon’s Quality Education Model says public schools need and what the state allocates.
“If we have a Quality Education Model level of funding, we also want to receive a Quality Education Model level of outcomes,” Gill said Wednesday before the House Interim Education Committee. “There is a lot riding on this investment.”
Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, is new to the House Education Committee. In Wednesday’s meeting, he asked Gill if the money would have been spent the same way if it had just been added to the State School Fund.
Gill replied that he thought the act’s extensive engagement process requirements had pushed districts away from simply restoring programs that had been cut over the years and instead to look deeper at which programs best serve all their students.
The act, along with the corporate activity tax supporting it, will likely face some technical fixes this session, but no major revision efforts have been revealed. Gill’s presentation included some proposed law tweaks as well as a fact sheet breaking down the act’s 2019-21 program funding.
Interim legislative committee meetings wrapped up Wednesday, the final meetings before the short session opens Feb. 3.
Legislators must deliver their legislative concepts to Legislative Counsel by Friday for the bills to be drafted. After Friday, only the Senate president, House Rules and the Joint Ways and Means Committee will be able to introduce measures.