School districts will not learn their High School Success Fund grant amounts until at least Aug. 1, even though they have already completed budgets for the coming school year.
School leaders expected the money July 1.
Schools use the grants, created through Measure 98 in 2016, to pay for dropout prevention, career and technical education, and college preparation programs. School leaders have enthusiastically embraced the funding to provide programs that improve academic results and increase student success.
Gov. Kate Brown told the Oregon Department of Education last week to delay funding the High School Success Fund while the state sorts out its budget.
Oregon is facing a $2.7 billion drop in revenue, and the State School Fund is by far the biggest General Fund expenditure. Oregon has an education reserve fund, though, and Brown has said she wants to keep the State School Fund whole this year.
The High School Success Fund is budgeted to receive $170 million from the General Fund and $133 million from the Student Success Act this biennium. The High School Success Fund is one of 14 statewide initiatives funded by the corporate activities tax in the act.
The Office of Economic Analysis estimates the coronavirus pandemic will cut the tax’s revenue by 26%. If no other budget actions are taken, funding for those initiatives would fall 37%, according to ODE.
The Legislature and Brown have said the Legislature will have another special session in a few weeks to straighten out the state budget. Oregon is waiting to see how much more federal coronavirus emergency aid it might receive.
Once funding is finalized, ODE will work with school districts if plans must be adjusted. ODE said in an email that the original funding amounts are still possible.
Stand for Children was the primary driver behind Measure 98, and Executive Director Toya Fick said education advocates should let their legislators know how their schools intend to use the money.
Fick said the uncertainty created by the delay is unfortunate, considering students and schools will need extra support to make up for distance learning’s shortcomings.
“It creates a little bit of hesitancy to move forward with things we know will have good outcomes for kids, which is not where we want to be right now,” Fick said. “If it’s not fully funded for the remainder of the biennium, that will mean undoing plans that people have had in place for a while now.”