Lawmakers Approve State Budget, Includes $24M for ODS
Friday, July 7, 2017, the Oregon Legislature formally approved the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) 2017-2019 biennial budget, which includes $24 million in lottery funds for Oregon State University (OSU) Extension to administer a statewide Outdoor School program during its first two years.
The full state budget package will be delivered to Gov. Kate Brown for her consideration. Last fall, Gov. Brown announced her enthusiastic support for Outdoor School funding (Measure 99), and we anticipate the HECC budget will be signed as approved by the Legislature.
Measure 99, passed by voters in November 2016, directs $44 million of Oregon Lottery dollars per biennium—or $22 million annually—to the new statewide Outdoor School program. The first of its kind, the program will provide a full week of Outdoor School to all fifth- or sixth-graders enrolled in Oregon schools that choose to participate, as authorized in Measure 99.
All state programs faced serious cuts as lawmakers worked to bridge a $1.6 million budget gap during its 2017 legislative session. Early proposals included delaying implementation of the Outdoor School program and only funding students in the second year of the biennium. Advocates worked hard to help the Legislature understand that OSU Extension will be ready for the fall 2017 school year and that the program should begin immediately. The approved budget allows this to happen.
Receiving $24 million rather than the full $44 million for the program’s first two years is not the outcome that Outdoor School supporters had originally expected after Measure 99 passed. However, it likely will take two years before schools across Oregon are fully ready to participate in the program. Friends of Outdoor School, the Gray Family Foundation and other involved organizations are hopeful that $24 million will provide sufficient funding for OSU Extension to create and administer the new state program, and to fund all schools that wish to participate in the next two years.
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Why Outdoor School?
In 1957, a hands-on field science program called Outdoor School (ODS) launched in Oregon. It is an opportunity for students in fifth or sixth grade to move from their school classrooms into the outdoors to learn...
On November 8, 2016, Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 99, authorizing funds from the state lottery to provide all 5th or 6th grade students in Oregon access to a week of Outdoor School.
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