What it does: Ballot Measure 98, the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act of 2016, required at least $800 per high school student to be distributed to school districts, in part to expand current career and technical education programs or establish new ones. This bill would allow districts with remote small high schools to use the money on existing CTE programs.
What’s new: During a public hearing Feb. 20, Rep. David Brock Smith, R- Port Orford, testified in favor of the measure, citing the need for flexibility in the face of declining enrollment in small and rural schools. Committee members expressed concern with altering BM 98 so soon after its enactment.
What’s next: The bill is scheduled for a work session in the House Education Committee on Monday, March 18. OSBA continues to monitor the bill.
What it does: Oregon funds public schools largely from income taxes and lottery dollars by allocating money to the State School Fund. The money is distributed on a weighted, per-student basis. SB 535 would increase the weight allotted in the formula, from 0.25 to 0.5, for students experiencing poverty and other similar hardships.
What’s new: The Senate Education Committee discussed the bill Wednesday, March 13. Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, the sponsor of the measure, testified to the undeniable damage poverty can do to a student’s ability to learn. Morgan Allen, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators deputy director of policy and advocacy, testified with the support of OSBA, in favor of the policy goal but expressed concern over the ramifications of the measure. Changing a formula does not add new money, and Allen testified that this measure would move an estimated $60 million around as a result of the formula change. Any change, Allen said, “should be additive,” with the Legislature increasing funding to support the change rather than taking money from another district.
What’s next: OSBA is monitoring the bill and will continue to advocate for an allocation to prevent harm to some districts.