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High school graduation initiative and Outdoor School both get about two-thirds of the vote in unofficial results

TRIBUNE PHOTO: SHASTA KEARNS MOORE - Stand for Children Oregon Executive Director Toya Fick celebrates the passage of Measure 98, which sets aside a portion of the general fund for high school graduation programs. Oregon's education scene is in for some changes.

Voters in the statewide Measures 98 and 99 are voting handily in favor, according to returns posted by 11 p.m. by the Secretary of State's Office.

Oregonians for High School Success' Measure 98 is running 65 percent for to 34 percent against.

Outdoor School for All's Measure 99 is at 66 percent yes to 33 percent no.

The results may change a bit as the final ballots are tallied, but the campaigns were celebrating by 8 p.m.

Toya Fick — executive director for Stand For Children, which spearheaded the Measure 98 campaign — said the vote was just the beginning.

“There’s still work to do to make sure a victory on election night leads to better outcomes for our schools,” Fick said. She said the coalition behind Measure 98 still plans to put pressure on the legislature and the state administration to build quality programs.

Measure 98 would create an earmark in the state's general fund for programs aimed at improving the state's dismal high school graduation rate. Oregon has the third-worst on-time graduation rate in the nation.

School districts would need to apply to the new fund to pay for programs like career-technical education, drop-out prevention programs and college-credit courses.

The High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Fund is expected to accrue about $800 per high school student per year.

The state, which does its budget every two years, will have to get $1.5 billion more in revenue for the new earmark to kick in fully.

Also from Tuesday’s election results, Oregon's fifth and sixth graders look to be in for a week of fun.

Measure 99 would take 4 percent of state lottery dollars for a new Outdoor School Education Fund, operated by Oregon State University. The fund is intended to provide every Oregon fifth and sixth grade student a week of outdoor education and is expected to generate $5.5 million and $22 million annually.

Over a national backdrop of extreme partisanship, former Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, a chief Outdoor School supporter, said Oregonians were able to come together on these education measures because they were clear.

“If people are given something very specific and concrete, people say yes,” he said, contrasting with the Measure 97 corporate tax measure, which vaguely promised more education funding.

Burkholder said he believes 20 years from now, a generation of Oregonians with a shared experience of Outdoor School will be voting and making decisions in their community.

“They will be better stewards and better citizens because of this,” he said.

For comprehensive coverage visit http://PoliticalOregon.com or follow the social media hashtag #ORVote.

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