Written by Maggie Hatt
In early March, students received forecasting materials in their advisory classes. For the first time, teachers not only passed out course selection forms, but also a supplement to the existing curriculum guide: A list of new courses that could be offered next year, but only if the funding required is designated to the school as dictated by Measure 98. Officially called the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act of 2016, Measure 98 was passed in the November elections, but funding will not become available until the 2017-2018 school year, and will not be awarded to every school.
Funds that are allotted by Measure 98 must be directed towards three main areas: establishing or expanding career and technical education programs within high schools, establishing or expanding college-level education opportunities within high schools, and establishing or expanding dropout prevention strategies. The precedent for these requirements is most likely the high dropout/low graduation rates in the state of Oregon, which had the second lowest graduation rate for the 2012-2013 school year out of all U.S. states.
In order to get Measure 98 funds, school districts must apply by presenting a biennial plan to raise high school graduation rates which then needs to be approved by the Oregon Department of Education. The way that funding will be awarded begins with establishing a fund valued at $800 for every student in grades 9-12, and then the ODE will award the money to districts based on their applications and plans.
If the Forest Grove School District is awarded funding, students will have a wider variety of classes to choose from, which may peak their interest more than the existing classes. Students who are actually interested in the classes that they take (or have more classes they deem “worthwhile”) will make going to school more of a priority and students will hopefully be more invested in their education. Such classes that the school is considering adding include interior design, business classes, and higher level culinary and metals classes. As it stands, not receiving funding from the Measure would not reduce the current number of courses offered, but the school would be missing out on a great opportunity to provide a wider array of programs and help to prepare students better for their intended career or educational paths. Measure 98 will have immeasurable benefits for the state of education in Oregon.