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House Education Committee learns about Measure 98 challenges

By Richard Donovan, legislative specialist

A hearing on Wednesday laid out for the House Education Committee some of the vexing details that come with Measure 98. Proponents of the measure, education stakeholder organizations and state agency representatives got a chance to address challenges of the measure as well as point out potential stumbling blocks for schools.

Measure 98 passed in 2016 with broad public support. The measure, formally known as the Oregon State Funding for Dropout Prevention and College Readiness Initiative, allocates $800 per student for career and technical education (CTE) courses, college-credit classes and dropout intervention programs in high schools

Two panels of speakers addressed the committee. The first panel was comprised of proponents and implementers of the measure, including Parasa Chanramy (Stand for Children), Education Innovation Officer Colt Gill (Chief Education Office), and Emily Nazarov (Oregon Department of Education). That panel spoke about the goals of the measure, as well as the practicalities of implementation. All panelists spoke about the requirement in the measure that schools must address all three program areas: CTE, college readiness and dropout prevention. Schools that are not interested in addressing all three areas should not apply for Measure 98 funds.

Chanramy pointed out the voluntary nature of the requirements.

“All districts have the option to choose to apply for Measure 98 dollars,” Chanramy said, “and we certainly encourage districts to pursue the opportunity if it makes sense for them to customize and sequence their programs.”

The second panel consisted of Morgan Allen (Confederation of Oregon Administrators), Laurie Wimmer (Oregon Education Association) and Richard Donovan (OSBA); they focused on potential portions of Measure 98 that could be changed. The presentations centered around the need to increase flexibility within the bounds of the measure, including changing the requirement that Measure 98 funds be spent in all three areas; permitting expenditure of Measure 98 funds at all grade levels, not just high school; creating a “funding floor” for very small school districts; allowing longer grant cycles to improve district planning; and permitting increased flexibility in “supplement v. supplant” regulations.

The challenge of implementing Measure 98 during a budget crisis was also discussed. The state’s estimated $1.8 billion budget shortfall has raised concerns around the anticipated $279 million price tag for Measure 98 and the impact that will have on the broader education budget.

“The intent of the measure is to have new programs, expand existing programs that would do new things,” Donovan said, “but we’re in a tough budget year. … In a lot of cases … it might make sense to just preserve what’s working already. And we’d like you to give school districts that option.”

At this time, there are no further hearings scheduled on Measure 98. However, it seems likely that the topic will come up in committees in both chambers again this session, and your OSBA staff will be there to make sure the voices of school districts throughout the state are a prominent part of the discussion. If you would like to review the hearing, you can find digital and audio recordings of it on the Oregon Legislature website.

> House Education Committee Vice-chair Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) and Rep. Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio) raise questions about Measure 98 during testimony Wednesday.
(Photo: Jake Arnold/OSBA) 

  < Education Innovation Officer Colt Gill, Oregon Department of Education Operations Policy Analyst Emily Nazarov (rear) and Stand for Children Policy and Advocacy Manager Parasa Chanramy testify Wednesday before the House Education Committee.
(Photo: Jake Arnold/OSBA)