Wallowa County schools will receive $324,179 in Measure 98 (dropout prevention) money for the 2017-19 biennium. That breaks down to $85,458 for Joseph, $149, 853 for Enterprise and $88,868 for Wallowa.
The money will be used to support career tech (CTE) and college readiness programs as part of dropout prevention measures.
Although Wallowa Schools have robust graduation rates (near 100 percent county-wide) and most students go on to college, the schools still qualify Measure 98 money and will be able to use the income to improve their course offerings.
Measure 98 appeared on the 2016 election ballot and was approved overwhelmingly by voters as a potential fix for the abysmal graduation rate of the state — the third lowest in the nation in 2016 according to U.S. Department of Education.
The Oregon Legislature approved a budget of $8.14 million to be administered by the Oregon Department of Education for this first biennium.
Schools only needed to apply for the first year of funding and funding was awarded. That money is now available to districts.
Districts will next request reimbursement for funds spent on Career Tech, dropout prevention or college readiness programs.
Going forward, the districts will have to submit a plan covering the next four years and get it approved by ODE before they can get funding for the 2018-19 year. That money will be available prior to July 1, 2018.
Both Enterprise and Joseph are taking some time to determine where they will spend their funds, according to their superintendents.
“There are lots of areas where we could spend it,” said Joseph Superintendent Lance Homan. “I want to take a look at those and prioritize.”
Wallowa had already begun shaping new programs they previously identified as both valuable and desired prior to receiving Measure 98 funding.
“We may use the Measure 98 funds for business and leadership programs,” said Wallowa School District Superintendent Bret Uptmor. “But I budgeted for those in any case.”
The infusion of money into districts due to special measures is very rare, according to the Oregon Department of Education.
“We are not aware of any other time in which this happened,” said Peter Rudy, public affairs specialist for the Office of the Deputy Superintendent of ODE. “There have been times when ballot measures have changed state or local revenue which has impacted how much money is delivered to programs, but nothing as specific as this.”