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Questions About Measure 98 Implementation

Measure 98 was supported by 1.2 million voters. Learn more about the how it will be implemented with these Frequently Asked Questions. If you cannot find answers to your questions, let us know. 

1. Would these funds be better spent in early childhood, on lowering class sizes, or other strategies?

Early childhood programs and third grade reading are important too. However, the evidence is strong that if we don’t fix the high school graduation rate, we’re wasting many of our early childhood investments. Oregon 8th graders are doing well at math and reading and should be on track for a strong graduation rate. However, something is going wrong when they hit high school. As a result, over 10,000 kids fall off a cliff each year and don’t graduate on time. Even the kids who graduate are often ill-prepared for college and careers.

High school is our last chance to keep kids on track to successful careers. If they don’t make it through high school on time, they face great difficulty getting back on track and bleak prospects in the job market. Most new Oregon living-wage jobs require at least a two-year degree. We need to fix that problem in order to sustain those early childhood investments all the way through school.

2. Why is this limited to just three programs?

We identified the programs that have proven their effectiveness at the high school level in individual school districts in Oregon and in other states throughout the U.S. where they are offered comprehensively. We know they work, so it’s a solid place to start taking on this challenge.

  • Oregon’s Career-Technical Education grants have had great success in keeping kids engaged in school and connected to good job opportunities; but these are just examples and have been provided to a very small number of Oregon high schools.
  • Programs like Oregon’s Eastern Promise and “fifth year” high school programs have improved student success in the critical transition from high school to college, and they have reduced the cost of earning a college degree. But they too only exist in about 20% of Oregon school districts.

Intervening early is the other proven strategy to keep kids on track to graduation in 9th grade. Counseling, mentoring, and extra class time and attention have proven to be highly effective in boosting graduation rates.

3.  How do we know these investments will pay off?

Measure 98 focuses on the programs with the best track records for keeping kids in school, boosting graduation rates and preparing students for success after high school, both in college and in the job market. To maximize the success of these investments, our measure provides that every school district make a specific plan, submitted to the state Dept. of Education, as to how it will provide these programs in their local schools.

Districts will still be able to decide how much new funding to put into CTE versus dropout prevent or college-level courses, depending on where they are most deficient now. But they will not be allowed to back out funding from pre-existing programs in these areas. They must add to what they are already doing.

The Department of Education will monitor performance in all districts, intervene where necessary and help districts that fail to meet the qualifying criteria, so that every high school student in the state can benefit from these investments.

4.  There is already Career Tech Education (or Voc Ed) in our schools, as well as advanced placement classes. What would our schools get from measure 98?

Measure 98 provides the resources to expand what your schools are providing now – with more and varied CTE programs geared to jobs in your community. And when it comes to doing college-level work and earning college credits, AP courses are not the only option. Co-enrollment programs that introduce high school to community college courses and faculty have shown great results as well.

We know those programs work well for our kids, but not enough kids have access to them. And, too often, the opportunity to participate in those programs comes from the “luck of the draw” – if a student happens to be at a school that offers a program that suits his or her interests. Expansion of these programs will expand opportunities for all high school students.

5.  Is Measure 98 an unfunded mandate?

Not at all. Districts are not required to participate, although we hope all do. For those that do participate, funding comes with the programs. Districts are under no obligation to commit or divert other funds to these programs beyond what is provided in new state funding.

6.  How much will it cost if we don't make these investments?

Oregon has the third lowest graduation rate in the country. Every year, over 10,000 students do not graduate on time. Businesses are struggling to find enough skilled workers. Our prosperity, culture, competitiveness and success as a state depend on turning these problems around.

7.  How much will this cost?

Just a little over one percent of the projected state budget, or about $294 million in 2017-19.

8.  How bad is Oregon's graduation rate?

It’s nearly the worst in the country. We have the third lowest graduation rate out of the 50 states, according to US Department of Education. That’s worse than the graduation rate for Nevada and New Mexico.

9.   Why did we need to bring Measure 98 to the ballot? Couldn't lawmakers have fixed it on their own?

Advocates for Oregonians have been working for decades to raise our graduation rate. But year after year, it has not been a priority. With Measure 98, Oregon voters delivered a message — we can’t afford to wait any longer. The economy is growing, inflation is low and the state is projected to collect a record amount of tax revenue. If we don’t do it now, when are we going to?

10. If schools don't have the money to implement Measure 98, will they have to take it from other programs? 

No. Measure 98 is not a mandate for individual school districts or schools. Districts will have the option to request Measure 98 funds and implement or expand the career-technical opportunities, college level courses and drop out prevention strategies of their choosing.

If less Measure 98 funds are available for districts than what they planned for, districts are only required to implement programs that are funded.

While we expect most school districts to use these opportunities in order to raise graduation rates, they are not required to do so.

The funding for Measure 98 is separate from the State School Fund -- and Measure 98 calls for being funded over and above schools current funding levels. In other words, Measure 98 is a mandate for maintaining and expanding K-12 funding to improve the success of our high schoolers.

11. How much money is due to my district?

This chart, prepared by EcoNorthwest over the summer, estimates how much your district will receive if Measure 98 is fully funded at $800/student.

12. Is my district working on their plan now? How do I find out? When will my district submit their plan? When will the money become available? How can teachers, parents, counselors, employers and community members play a role in the process?

As written, Measure 98 directs the Department of Education to make funds available starting in the 2017-18 school year. This would include enabling districts to launch transitional programs for 8th to 9th graders beginning with the summer of 2017.

Many districts are working on their plans now. The state Dept. of Education is currently working out the timeline for districts to submit funds, and for funds to be released. You can follow this process on the Oregon Dept. of Education’s website.

District officials have to spend funds in all three areas of Measure 98. It will be important for students, parents, teachers, career counselors and local workforce partners to meet with school district leaders and provide input in those spending plans. Contact us if you want assistance or advice on how to play a role in your district’s decisions

Districts should expect to have to demonstrate compliance with the purposes of the measure for 2017-18, but they will not have to fully implement the best practices and systems specified in Section 12(2) of the measure until the following school year. The Oregon Department of Education is exploring ways to provide statewide and district-to-district support for the implementation of these best practices and systems at the district level.

13. Can CTE funds be spent on equipment, facilities and teachers?

Yes.

14. Will funds just be eaten up by administration?

Measure 98 caps the percentage of funds that a district can spend on administration to just 4-5% of allocated funds.

15. Will Measure 98 require districts to run programs even if there are not sufficient funds?

No. Measure 98 has been mischaracterized by some as an “unfunded mandate.” It’s not. First, districts are not required to apply for its funding, although we hope that all will. Second, districts will be under no obligation to spend a dollar more than the funding provided by the measure.

16. Will Measure 98 be tough for small districts to implement because they have less students and thus less funds?

Measure 98 funds are allocated the same way as State School Fund dollars. Small districts will get the same dollar amount per student as large districts. Measure 98 also gives districts the flexibility to pool their Measure 98 resources together, and with ESDs, to get more bang for the buck.

17. Where does Measure 98 funding come from?

Measure 98’s funding is supposed to come from a small portion (about $300 million) of the nearly $1.5 billion in new income tax revenue the state is projected to collect because both the economy and population are growing, and inflation is at an all time low.

18. If there’s all this new money coming in, why am I hearing the state is in a huge deficit?

There’s definitely new money coming in - the state is projected to collect more tax dollars than ever before. And, with inflation continuing at an all-time low, there should be plenty of tax money to fund Measure 98 and maintain our existing K-12 investments. However, the projected costs of existing government programs are rising faster than those revenues are growing -- and much faster than normal inflation. If lawmakers do nothing to change that, that government inflation is projected to eat up all the new money and then some.

19. How will the state government deal with this deficit?

There’s been a lot of extreme scenarios being circulated, but there’s more to it than that. Lawmakers always have four tools to reconcile a deficit. They could reprioritize existing government programs and do fewer things better. They could reduce the cost of running existing programs so government inflation is consistent with the rest of the economy. They can raise taxes to cover those cost increases. Or, they can cut everything equally across the board.

At this writing, state legislative leaders have been saying that their choices are more limited than this -- either make painful across the board cuts, or raise tax revenue. More recently, there has been renewed discussion about also reducing the underlying costs of running government programs to make it more sustainable over the long run. The point it, there is a lot of political pressure for lawmakers to make some kind of deal -- and there should be.

20. But if state leaders can’t figure out how to make the state budget more sustainable, won’t that mean they have to make huge cuts to K-12, and just defund Measure 98 altogether?

Not necessarily. Measure 98 requires the state to invest in career technical education, college prep and dropout prevention on top of what we typically fund K-12 at. Those additional Measure 98 investments are just a little over one percent of the state budget. Measure 98 passed by a 2-1 margin in nearly every Oregon county. In other words, voters just gave K-12 a huge mandate for lawmakers to protect and expand.

More importantly, maintaining K-12 and following through on Measure 98 is one of the best investments the state can make. Not doing that would only put a big drag on the economy and ensuring ballooning government costs down the road. We have a lot of tools and arguments we can use to head off that scenario.

21. Can I help?

Yes! It is very important for teachers, parents, students and the community to make this case to lawmakers to that investing in education, fixing our high school graduation rate and restoring career technical education are among the single best things the state can make to boost prosperity, improve health and reduce government costs down the road.

Of course, all this is easier if lawmakers also agree on a plan to make the state’s finances more sustainable -- by both raising tax revenue and keeping cost inflation in line with the rest of the economy. So, in addition to making the case for prioritizing K-12 and decisively turning the graduation rate around, education boosters can also help by encouraging lawmakers in both parties to do what it takes to stabilize the state’s finances.

22. Does a district have to use Measure 98 funding in all three areas – dropout prevention, career-technical education, and college-level courses?

YES. Measure 98 provides supplemental funding for all of the state’s 197 school districts to establish or expand programs for their high school students in three programs areas:

  • Career-technical education programs “relevant to the job market in the community or region the school district serves” (Section 5); and,
  • College-level educational opportunities, such as AP, IB, dual credit and co-enrollment programs (Section 6); and,
  • Dropout prevention strategies, such as activities to reduce chronic absenteeism, summer and after-hours programs, tutoring and counseling (Section 7).

 Districts can decide how much of their allocation to use in each area.

23. Is the application and funding process competitive?

NO. Measure 98 establishes a non-competitive qualifying process for receipt of funds based on the submission of biennial plans to the Department of Education (Section 12). Funds will be made available to school districts pursuant to the state’s Extended Average Daily Membership weighted (ADMw) formula, which provides extra weighting for low-income students and other factors (Section 3).

24. What does “establish or expend” mean? Can a district just use Measure 98 money to keep doing what they are currently doing?

This terminology means that investments in these programs may be used to establish new programs or expand existing ones. Districts do not have to start brand new programs to meet the spirit of the law, but they also can’t backfill funding for existing programs and thereby redirecting funds to other areas of a school district’s budget. There is an exception in Section 8 allows the continuation of programs with Measure 98 funds when funding is lost due to the expiration of time-limited grants, such as the state’s CTE Revitalization Grants and the federal School Improvement Grants. Another exception would allow a school district to continue a so-called “fifth year” co-enrollment program, for which funding had been provided by the State School Fund.

Examples of expansions of CTE, college credit or dropout prevention programs can include:

  • A program that serves 30 students could be expanded to add more students; or,
  • More teachers could be hired or their hours increased to expand existing programs; and/or,
  • New equipment could be purchased to better serve these students.

Section 8 of Measure 98 defines the baseline for program expansions as the programs in effect prior to the effective date of the measure. Programs in effect as of January 2017 school year would set the baseline for the measure’s program expansions. Programs can be expanded in the 2017-18 school year, or new programs can be established, or both.

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