Umatilla Among School Districts to Get $500,000 in Federal Funds

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By Alex Baumhardt

Thousands of kids across Oregon are guaranteed summer and after-school programs in the coming school year with millions in new federal funding.

The Oregon Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday that 25 school and education service districts around the state, along with the Boys & Girls Club and United Way, will share more than $53.5 million during the next five years to provide summer and after-school programs. The money is from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which was established by Congress to serve rural and inter-city schools and provides the only federal money for after-school and summer learning programs.

The recipients, including 22 of the state’s 197 school districts and three of the state’s 19 education service districts, welcomed the money following lean offerings this summer due to a lack of money from the Legislature.

The districts and organizations will partner with more than 200 community groups to use the money to serve thousands of kids in 115 schools.

Each recipient, which had to apply for the money, has tailored their programs to align with Gov. Tina Kotek’s education objectives, according to a news release from the state education department. These include improving K-5 reading and writing skills, growing career and technical education and improving student mental health.

Recipients will split more than $11 million this year and the following two school years. They’ll split $10 million during the 2026-27 school year and about $9 million during the 2027-28 school year.

Ten school districts in Corvallis, Portland, Forest Grove, Gresham, Jefferson County, Klamath Falls, North Clackamas, Springfield, Umatilla and Woodburn will each get $500,000 each year for the next three years.

In Corvallis, four Title I elementary schools will get special reading and math intervention programs to help students struggling the most. Title I schools serve a high number of students from low-income families. The David Douglas School District in Portland is teaming up with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, which provides legal and job training resources to immigrants and refugees in Oregon, on a number of programs.

They’ll work together to provide racially and ethnically diverse students, English language learners, low-income students and students with disabilities tutoring in core subjects, credit recovery classes and civics education.

The Boys & Girls Club of Santiam and the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley will get about $320,000 and nearly $500,000 per year, respectively. The Boys & Girls Club plans to focus on helping nearly 300 fifth through 10th-graders living in Lebanon and Sweet Home meet state academic standards in core subjects. The United Way will serve more than 3,000 students in two high schools and six middle schools in the Salem-Keizer School District. Money will go to providing tutors, homework help and family event nights, along with before and after-school meals and snacks.

No money this summer

In 2021 and 2022, the state Legislature allocated more than $390 million to schools and community groups to pay for summer programs to help students catch up on learning and access mental health resources following the pandemic.

No summer school funding was allocated to schools during the most recent Legislative session, which wrapped up in June. A bill that would have sent money to schools died in the Senate Ways and Means Committee in late February, and Democratic leaders offered no explanation.

Some community groups that had received six-figure grants got nothing, leading some to scale back programs or cut them entirely, according to a survey by the  nonprofit Oregon Afterschool & Summer for Kids Network. They anticipated serving about half as many of the 120,000 youth as they had the summer prior.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, previously told the Capital Chronicle that in the absence of additional money, lawmakers hoped districts would use any remaining COVID relief funds they had from the U.S. Department of Education or money from the Student Success Act for summer programs. The act is meant to serve traditionally underserved students, as well as to pay for school counselors and emotional support staff.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

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