Allocating increased school funding locally
by Cami Villanueva, CMN intern
Last year, Oregon legislators passed the Student Success Act (SSA), promising to provide one billion dollars annually to Oregon schools. The money will be divided up into three accounts: early learning account, statewide education initiatives account, and student investment account.
$200 million (20%) will be invested in early learning, helping 15,000 children under the age of five and their parents cultivate education at a young age.
$300 million (30%) will be used to create new programs and support pre-existing ones that focus primarily on students. Some examples of programs that will benefit from this new investment are summer programs, transportation, child nutrition, and ethnic-specific support programs.
At least $500 million (50%) will be given to the Student Investment Account (SIA). Beaverton School District (BSD) is currently drafting a plan for the allocation of that fund. The SIA allows Oregon school districts to invest the allotted money in reducing class size, providing a well-rounded education, increasing instructional time, and strengthening the health and safety of students.
Currently, BSD has placed its focus on two goals: the health and safety of the students, and class size. In the draft plan, the goal for the health and safety of students puts a particular emphasis on addressing behavioral health. All schools in BSD, including option schools, will see an increase in social workers and counselors.
“I'm hopeful that the SSA will help support ongoing mental health efforts at our school, both proactively reaching our students on issues of anxiety, stress, and more, and responding in ways that help students who are in crisis,” said Mr. Bjorn Paige, the principle of Arts and Communications Magnet Academy (ACMA).
As for the class sizes, BSD will hire more teaching staff for core classes in grades K-12 depending on the number of students who identify as navigating through poverty.
Middle schoolers will see an expansion of their electives. As exciting as it is to see the student to teacher ratio be lowered in core classes, some say that is not enough.
“Experience tells us that electives are always the first to be cut when cuts are necessary, but are not, then, the first to be recovered...Electives courses have been lost completely...every semester, students are turned away from electives because there is just not room for them,” a BSD instructor said in a post on Next Door.
Feedback like this is what helps BSD improve. As wonderful as the new Student Success Act is, BSD needs help from community members, like you, to decide how to use the new money in order to give students the best educational experience possible. On the Beaverton School District webpage, there is a place community members can learn more about the Student Success Act and provide feedback on the current draft plan.