Yesterday afternoon the Senate Education Committee heard public testimony on
, which threatens fifth-year programs such as PACE, Beyond LHS, and ACT.
Currently, fifth-year programs are funded out of the State School Fund, and the participating students are included in the aggregate day membership calculation which assists in determining the amount of funds distributed to a specific district. If passed SB 322 will essentially disallow funding of these programs through the State School Fund.
Right now, in the Lebanon, Sweet Home, Scio, North Santiam and Santiam Canyon districts we have approximately 189 students benefiting from a fifth-year program, and countless hopefuls looking to participate in upcoming years. These programs are doing exactly what the education reform means to do, these programs bridge the gap between small rural communities and an affordable college experience. This also directly sets Oregon on the right track towards the
addressed in the 2011 regular session.
I'd like to highlight a portion of Dr. Erin Prince, Corvallis School District's Superintendent's
"Corvallis is in its second year with Running Start, our 5th year program. Our graduation rates jumped from 72% to 84% last year when our 5th year program began. This is not by chance and definitely not incremental. These rates are transformational and Running Start is the catalyst. Two years ago at College Hill, our Corvallis Alternative High School, 0% of the seniors went on to college. Out of this year's seniors, 50% are committed to attend College through our 5th year program."
Mike McInally of the Albany Democrat-Herald wrote a great editorial earlier this month on the same subject, you can find the article
Rural Oregon students can not afford to lose more opportunities! I applaud all of the students who testified in yesterday's Senate Education committee and thank them for their work on this.