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Schools must ask stakeholders their ideas about how funds can best be used for learning

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The Student Success Act will funnel new funds into schools. They must ask stakeholders how the money can best be used. The Student Success Act, which will infuse about $2 billion into education in Oregon over the next two years, requires school districts to ask parents, students, community members, teachers and others how they think the money should be spent and local school districts are planning on doing just that.

The big East Multnomah County school districts are each taking different approaches to involving parents, students and the public in their Success Act planning.

Money from the so-called "student investment account" is to be used for two purposes. One is to "meet student's mental and behavioral health needs." The second is to increase academic achievement and reduce the "achievement gap" for students of color, students with disabilities, bilingual students and those navigating poverty, homelessness and foster care.

The Gresham-Barlow School District plans to have meetings that include the various stakeholder groups, but hasn't finalized dates or locations yet.

Administrators and the board will collect opinions at meetings that "reach the school employees, specific student groups and families of students of color, students with disabilities, emerging bilinguals, students navigating poverty, homelessness, foster care and other student groups that have been historically underserved," Lisa Riggs, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment at Gresham-Barlow said in an email.

Administrators have been invited to talk with middle and high school student groups.

Gresham-Barlow also "will be holding a regional staff meeting to discuss the planning process and feedback, etc.," Riggs said.

The Reynolds School District is wrapping the required discussions into its yearly budgeting meetings and an already established strategic planning process.

"We are happy to continue the work we started last year with our budgeting process to engage stakeholders and also have plans to engage the community in our strategic planning process that is coming up," said Stephanie Field district communications director in an email.

Reynolds' Strategic Plan Steering Committee will be meeting from October through April with the five-year strategic plan scheduled to be presented to the school board on June 10. The Student Success Act will be part of that planning process.

Reynolds plans to hold Strategic Planning Community Forums from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, and Tuesday, Feb. 11, in the Reynolds High School Multipurpose Room, 1698 S.W. Cherry Park Road, in Troutdale.

There are also focus group meetings that will include culturally-specific families, students, elected officials, community partners, businesses, faith communities and staff planned for the week of November 18-22. Specific times and locations for these meetings have not yet been set.

The district plans to again ask for community input to drive budget goals and recommendations, this time with Student Success Act areas as topics.

This year, Reynolds will have Community Budget Input Sessions from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, and Thursday, Nov. 7. The Oct. 17 meeting will be at Wilkes Elementary School, 17020 N.E. Wilkes Road, and the Nov. 7 meeting will be at Reynolds Middle School, 1200 N.E. 201st Ave.

Childcare will be provided for these two meetings.

Centennial just went through a strategic planning process, which included extensive outreach to the community. The Oregon Department of Education determined that this was sufficient input from the Centennial community to satisfy the requirements of the Student Success Act.

Schools can begin applying for noncompetitive grants for the $500 million in the so-called "student investment account" in March and April 2020.

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