3:46 p.m. PDT October 17, 2016
Salem-Keizer schools stand to be the biggest financial benefactor from a ballot measure this November that would boost and expand career technical education, drop-out prevention and advanced placement programs.
Measure 98, formally called The Oregon State Funding for Dropout Prevention and College Readiness Initiative, would require the Legislature to appropriate at least $800 per high school student, per school year, for districts to create or expand college-level educational opportunities, career and technical education programs and drop-out prevention strategies.
The funding would come from a portion of unallocated revenue accrued in the past 10 years of economic growth, according to Pete Zuckerman, a spokesman for the Yes on 98 campaign.
Salem-Keizer School District is estimated to receive $10.2 million should the measure pass, the most of any district in the state.
The funding is determined by district and based on “extended weighted average daily membership” — how many ninth through 12th graders are in attendance.
A “yes” vote supports requiring the Oregon Legislature to fund such programs; whereas a “no” vote would oppose the requirement.
What is the goal of the measure? What could it accomplish?
The goal of Measure 98 is to improve Oregon’s graduation rate and provide students with more opportunities for career readiness, according to the campaign. The measure emphasizes help for traditionally marginalized and low-income students.
Currently, Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country — 72 percent.
Projections show the state’s graduation rate is expected to increase by 4 percentage points between now and 2029, according to a study conducted by ECONorthwest, should everything remain the same.
However, the study estimates well-implemented programs supported by Measure 98 could increase graduation rates for low-income students in the same span of time by about 5 or 6 percentage points, in addition to the already anticipated 4 percentage points.
That would bring Oregon up to 81 or 82 percent, nearing the 82 percent national average.
Having access to advanced placement and career technical courses has been shown to increase the graduation rate and lower the dropout rate.
Students who earn career technical education credit have a 22 percent greater chance of graduating when compared to those who don’t, according to the Oregon Department of Education.
Proponents of the measure argue an increased graduation rate and skilled-work pool could have a significant impact on the state’s economy as well.
“We see the consequences of our poor high school graduation rate almost everywhere,” according to campaign officials. “Employers are struggling to find skilled workers. Dropouts are struggling to find jobs that cover basic expenses … Graduates often have few options.”
Where would the money come from?
Measure 98 would require the Legislature to commit $147 million per year, appropriating at least $800 per high school student per school year for districts.
“It doesn’t take money away from existing programs,” Zuckerman said. “It works by directing a percentage of new, unallocated (state) revenue to schools.”
Schools would need to submit applications to receive the funds. The Oregon Department of Education would monitor the use of funds.
Zuckerman said the money is allocated to the schools whether or not they apply, but the application process is in place to make sure the districts have a structured plan for the money.
“Different schools have different needs,” he said. “(The measure) is flexible enough it can adjust to what (each) school needs.”
He said this allows districts to decide for themselves, saying, “(They) will know what’s best.”
Zuckerman said there is a safeguard in place that would prorate the funds should economic growth not continue as it has in recent years. The $800 would be adjusted with changes in inflation and population.
Toya Fick is the executive director for Stand for Children Oregon and a chief petitioner for the Yes for 98 campaign.
“Measure 98, if approved by the voters, will create legislation that has the force of law,” she said. “It creates a fund for high school programs and specifies the amount to be allocated to that fund. But (the measure) is a statutory measure, and can be amended by the legislature.”
Measure 98 is not related to or dependent on the passing of Measure 97.
Who supports it? Who opposes it?
Various public figures, news publications, businesses and organizations have voiced their support for the measure, including gubernatorial candidates Kate Brown and Bud Pierce, and the Independent Party of Oregon.
There is no organized opposition to the measure. The Oregon Education Association has “adopted a neutral stance regarding the … campaign,” said Fick.
Learn more about Measure 98 in the Oregon State Voter Pamphlet, which is available online.
Estimated M98 funds by district
District Students Funds
Cascade 5,838 $565,690
Central 1,220 $824,311
Dallas 1,291 $871,877
Gervais 519 $350,853
Jefferson 394 $266,096
North Santiam 831 $561,278
Salem-Keizer 15,128 $10.2 million
Silver Falls 1,453 $981,114
Woodburn 2,146 $1.4 million