WSD considers CTE facility with Measure 98 funds
Woodburn School District is looking for ways to spend about $1.6 million it received for the 2017-18 school year from the state's High School Success act Measure 98.
WSD has until the end of 2018 to spend the $1.6 million awarded to it by the program, but faces unclear rules from the state as to how it can use the funds.
The district's problem is that it has already created programs to address dropout prevention and college level education, and would rather direct the majority of the funds to revitalizing its career and technical education (CTE) programs, according to district superintendent Chuck Ransom.
"It's a problem, but a good problem," Ransom said.
WSD already has well-established college level education in the form of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, and participation in the accelerated college credit program Willamette Promise.
"The area where we have the biggest need is expanding CTE, that's the area where we want to push hard," Ransom said.
Measure 98 was created to fund programs in three specific areas of high school education: dropout prevention, career and technical education, and college level education opportunities. The funds are released in two distributions over a period of two years. Schools must spend the funds by the end of second year, as they do not roll over to the next two-year period. WSD received $800,000 right at the end of the 2017 school year, and received the second distribution of $800,000 over the summer.
The district currently has three CTE programs which would benefit from the funding: a health occupations program, business and marketing, and a pre-engineering program. The district is also starting three new CTE classes: a news broadcasting program, a cadet teaching program, and an early childhood education program.
Currently Woodburn High School does not have enough room to accommodate all these programs, Ransom said. A new facility is necessary, and while the Measure 98 rules allow districts to spend money on construction, the district is unsure how much they can spend, he said.
The district would like to spend at least 70 percent of its total measure 98 funding on CTE programs and has already identified available space in the fire damaged portion of the high school where a new CTE facility could be built.
"If we are able to spend at least 70 percent, that $1.6 million will be gone in a flash," Ransom said.
In order to receive the Measure 98 funding, schools are required to submit plans to the Oregon Department of Education detailing how they will fund the three areas. WSD submitted its plans to ODE and was approved for funding, but is now waiting to be approved again on updates which focus on funding construction of a new CTE facility.
"If we get the funding OK'd we could commit to a $10 or $12 million facility," Ransom said.
Ransom said that he has also been working alongside superintendents from neighboring school districts in northern Marion County to create a CTE hub center similar to Salem-Keizer School District's CTE Center. The challenge schools face offering CTE classes is that class sizes are often smaller than regular high school classes, and require specialized facilities and instruction. A CTE hub would provide the necessary tools and classroom space needed to teach technical trades like construction or automotive engineering, while bringing in students from multiple schools to ensure enough students are enrolled to make classes viable.
The district will be focusing on getting its own CTE facility up and running for now, and will need community support to channel money to the project Ransom said.