Investing in opportunities for our students
In 2016, voters in Oregon approved Measure 98, also known as High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act of 2016.
The ballot measure provided $170 million in funding for high schools in this biennium (2017-2019) to increase graduation rates. Three primary areas for funding included dropout prevention, career and technical education, and college level education opportunities.
Woodburn will receive approximately $820,000 per year in funding from the proposal. Our elected school board members met to determine the best use of funding to expand on opportunities for students. The board was unanimous in its decision that funding should be used for career readiness programs.
Our district already offers students the opportunity to earn college credits while in high school. One area where we need additional investment is in career and technical education (CTE) for students to be able to meet the state demand for a skilled workforce.
CTE, as it's now called, was popular at many schools years ago. Students could learn career and technical skills and qualify for apprenticeships, internships and good paying jobs soon after graduation. Over the years, school districts were encouraged to direct graduates to higher education opportunities at colleges and universities.
Both of these post-secondary choices are laudable, but focusing on one at the expense of the other does a disservice to our students and business partners. Some students may want to pursue a two- or four-year degree. Others have the talent and skills to pursue a career in the trades, while still others may want to try a trade and then pursue a university degree.
The Woodburn School Board recently met and approved a resolution to design a new facility to provide CTE opportunities for our students. The cost for such a facility is estimated at $13 million, which we are able to finance because of funding from Measure 98 and our strong financial position.
We are moving forward with the building design and outreach to stakeholders about program development. There are opportunities to partner with neighboring school districts, which will help us maximize this funding as well.
Providing opportunities for students to explore post-secondary opportunities is key to helping them succeed. Their success is our goal, and this new facility is one way we can make that happen.