What it does: There are 19 charter schools in Oregon serving approximately 22,000 students through a dedicated or partially dedicated virtual platform. Current law includes a 3% cap placed on the number of students from any district who can enroll in a virtual charter school that is not sponsored by the local school district. Once a district reaches that 3% cap, any additional students wishing to attend a virtual charter school must receive permission to do so from the local school district. This bill would allow students to enroll in a virtual public charter school regardless of the percentage of students in a district that are already enrolled.
What’s next: The Senate Education Committee has scheduled a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 24. Procedurally, because the measure is still in its first chamber, the Senate, it cannot be scheduled for a vote this session. This effectively means the bill is dead. However, the hearing will likely serve as an opportunity for bill proponents to describe potential legislation for 2023.
What it does: The wildfires that ravaged Jackson, Linn, Lincoln, and Lane counties in 2020 displaced great numbers of students and families. That displacement caused significant enrollment decreases for certain fire-affected school districts, and these districts face a corresponding loss of funding. Without some support, these districts will likely be forced to lay off great numbers of employees, further destabilizing these schools and communities. The bill would transfer $25 million for enrollment stabilization from the Student Success Act’s Statewide Education Initiatives Account to be used by impacted districts for the next four years – 2021-22 through 2024-25. If enrollment dips below the pre-fire levels, then the Oregon Department of Education would be able to use 2019-20 enrollment numbers to calculate funding from the State School Fund, the Student Investment Account (from the Student Success Act); and Measure 98/High School Success funding.
What’s next: The Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee approved the bill Monday, Feb. 21. The full Ways and Means Committee is expected to hear the bill this week.