A month after the Oregon Department of Corrections said it was cutting ties with multiple community colleges, the agency and colleges have come to a new agreement.
In October, the Oregon DOC said it was opting to move its adult education programming “in-house” to address a budget shortfall and an inconsistency of services.
After ongoing conversations with the Oregon Community College Association, it said, that plan has changed.
The Oregon DOC and the Oregon Community College Association “worked diligently to create a plan that prioritizes learning for adults in custody and have come to an agreement regarding the path forward,” DOC’s Communications Manager Jennifer Black told OPB.
Black said the plan, an option put forward by the six community colleges DOC contracts with, increases “direct education services” — something DOC had been pushing for with the colleges.
The agreement includes a nine-hour per-week increase in classroom instruction time for DOC’s in-person adult basic education classes. It also includes a 44-hour per week increase in testing coordination — the scheduling of GED testing and other assessments as well as the proctoring of that testing.
At the same time, the agreement makes cuts to curriculum and educational programming, as well as computer lab usage. DOC officials said they were fine with that, due to the increase in instructors' time with students.
The plan also includes a decrease of 20 hours per week for a special education instructor position. The DOC said it was accepting that reduction because it was appropriate based on the number of adults in custody needing those services.
“The details are still being worked out and we haven’t yet received draft contract language,” said Cam Preus, Oregon Community College Association executive director. “Having said that, we are pleased to be back in partnership with DOC and to continue serving AIC’s with high-quality education programs.”
Blue Mountain Community College, Central Oregon Community College, Chemeketa Community College, Portland Community College, Southwestern Oregon Community College and Treasure Valley Community College have contracts with the DOC to provide GED services and other educational programming to inmates across its 14 facilities.
“Leadership at DOC truly appreciates all the time and resources OCCA put into this process and we look forward to our continued partnership with the colleges,” Black with the DOC said.