Oregon Legislature passes $30 million for summer school

By Alex Baumhardt (Oregon Capital Chronicle)
March 6, 2024 7:13 p.m.
FILE - Youth at an ancestral fermentation class held by nonprofit CAPACES over the summer of 2022. CAPACES was able to quadruple programming with summer learning grants from the state that year.

FILE - Youth at an ancestral fermentation class held by nonprofit CAPACES over the summer of 2022. CAPACES was able to quadruple programming with summer learning grants from the state that year.

Courtesy of CAPACES

Oregon school districts are likely to get $30 million for summer programs this year following the passage Tuesday by the Legislature of House Bill 4082.


That’s $30 million more than they got last year, when lawmakers failed to allocate any additional funding, but less than the $50 million the bill’s chief sponsor, state Rep. Susan McLain, D-Hillsboro, wanted. It’s also significantly less than the money allocated for summer learning in the years immediately following pandemic school closures.

The House passed it Monday with a 53-4 vote and the Senate followed on Tuesday with a 26-4 vote. It now heads to Gov. Tina Kotek for her signature.

Kotek made summer school funding a priority at the onset of the session, saying she hoped lawmakers would approve the $50 million originally proposed, according to spokesperson Elisabeth Shepard. Kotek welcomed the bill’s passage nevertheless.

“Thanks to this funding, students all across Oregon will have more time to learn this summer. I hope legislative leadership can allocate additional funds before the session concludes so more students can get what they need,” Kotek said in a news release.


Related: Proposal to fund Oregon summer school moves forward, with 40% less money

The $30 million would be split among the state’s 197 school districts and 19 education service districts this summer, with priority going to the state’s 530 Title I schools, where at least one-third of students are from low-income households or receive support services from the state.

If approved by Kotek, districts will be able to distribute funds to community-based nonprofit groups such as the YMCA or Boys & Girls Club. The proposal also would create a workgroup to study and propose long-term solutions for sustainable, consistent funding for summer school over the next year.

“As we advance conversations this year to examine how our schools are funded, I appreciate that this bill also creates a roadmap to explore sustainable funding for summer learning going forward. I envision an Oregon where all students have access to these essential learning and enrichment opportunities,” Kotek said in the news release.

Related: Mixed reviews, lessons learned as Portland summer school changes to fall

During the summer of 2023 lawmakers did not allocate any additional money for summer school or community-based summer learning programs. Some programs that were staffed in 2021 and 2022 shut down last year. School districts and larger groups such as YMCA and Boys & Girls Club cut field trips and other offerings.

A survey from the Oregon Afterschool & Summer for Kids Network, or OregonASK, a nonprofit network of educational groups, found that despite increased demand statewide, about half of community groups were forced to scale back programs without the additional state funding.

“Though advocates hoped for more, our state can build on this funding to make even bolder, more sustainable, and community-wide investments in summer and after-school learning for years to come,” Whitney Grubbs, executive director of the nonprofit Foundations for a Better Oregon, previously told the Capital Chronicle in an email.

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