According to the State Department of Education, educational groups and several state senators, schools and summer education programs need another $ 100 million to help students recover after the pandemic-related schools close.
Testifying at a Senate education committee meeting Tuesday, they said Oregon needs additional programs to help students rebuild credit, spend time with peers and counselors, and address behavioral issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Dave MacDonald, vice president of public relations and strategic initiatives at the University of Western Oregon, said he needed more money to support summer classes in the future. The university runs summer programs for high school students and freshmen.
“The challenges Covid has created for us continue, not just for the ’22 class,” MacDonald said. “Middle school students will have a shortage that they need to overcome, and we will need such summer programs for many years to come.”
Officials from the Department of Education, the Coalition of School Administrators and others also called for an increase in spending on summer programs.
Sen. Michael Dembrow, of D-Portland, and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, have called for an additional $ 100 million for summer programs, adding $ 100 million over last year. a year that was not spent because funding was not available until June, which did not give educators much time to plan.
During the 2021 legislative session, a bill was passed to allocate $ 205 million for summer programs in response to Covid’s training losses.
The money went to 161 school districts, 69 charter schools and thousands of community programs.
However, the grants allowed the programs to serve more than eight times more students last summer than the year before.
Last year, more than 101,000 students participated in summer programs, compared to nearly 13,000 in 2020.
Dembrow and Courtney have called for the remaining $ 100 million to be used for programs this summer and to add another $ 100 million to cover more programs. According to the Oregon Afterschool & Summer for Kids Network, most summer educational programs in Oregon are paid for by the participant.
Dembrow said he would like to expand access to low-income families without charging families such a large fee.
“The more we are able to allocate resources to children from poor families through good incentive programs, the rewards will be great in the future,” Dembrow said.
Dembrow said the additional $ 100 million would be considered a budget item not tied to the bill and would be considered by the Capital Construction Subcommittee under the Joint Committee on Methods and Means. The subcommittee works on the state budget.
Both Dembrow and Courtney view increased funding for summer schools and programs as a vital step toward bringing the state closer to year-round schooling.
According to Courtney, “After all, it’s starting to really talk about a full year at school.”
Dembrow said the original universal kindergarten was optional for schools, but has become so popular that it has become mandatory across the state.
“It didn’t start that way when I was a freshman in the legislature,” Dembrow said. “The year-round school reminds me of that.”
Courtney said, at least, that Oregon needs to maintain sound summer school funding in the coming years.
“It’s both helping students who are lagging behind now and helping students with the future,” he said.