Alina Bradbury has been hired by the Lake County Education Service District (ESD) as liaison to the county school districts to assist in grant proposal process for funds from the Oregon Student Success Act (SSA) passed by the state legislature in May 2019. According to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) website, the SSA “when fully implemented, is expected to invest $2 billion in Oregon education every two years.” The thrust of the SSA is to provide support for school districts to create educational access and opportunities for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students and their parents who have been “historically underserved.”
Bradbury’s duties will be to work with each school district assisting them in fulfilling the application process requirements. “We talk to the ODE weekly and get updates, which is helpful,” said Bradbury. “As the process unfolds there may be questions on the part of the individual schools in the district. My job will be to get the answers from the ODE, to ensure the applications are completed correctly and in a timely fashion.î”
According to the ODE website, the SSA will be funding three program categories. The Early Learning Account (ELA) will receive “at least 20 percent” with a $200 million annual budget to support and expand early care and education programs for children of low-income families to be ready to learn when entering school. The Student Investment Account (SIA) “at least 50 percent” to improving and expanding existing programs and developing new programs which increase the quality and access to education for K-12 students. The Statewide Education Initiatives (SEI) “up to 30 percent” to support creation of new or expansion of existing ODE programs targeted to improve educational opportunities for “historically underserved student groups.”
In preparation for her liaison duties Bradbury has been studying the 90-page legislative directive for the SSA. “There are four particular areas of concern the SIA funding will support,” explained Bradbury, “increasing instructional time; addressing student (mental) health and safety needs with more support at school; evidence based strategies for reducing class sizes and case-loads (having more teachers available); and, expanding availability of student participation in a well-rounded learning experience ñ helping the learning environments to be high quality, whether that is materials, seating or access to technology.”
The need assessment development strategy for each school to determine the funding for which they will apply is being generated through surveys to parents, teachers and administrators. There will also be a public comment period. Bradbury notes that the ODE stresses community engagement be an integral part of the process. That process had already begun before Bradbury had been hired as liaison. She had been employed by the ESD for the last several months as a substitute special education teacher. Consequently, she has developed relationships throughout the district. Bradbury projects the survey results will be completed by the end of January or early February. The applications are due in March. The funds will be distributed in time for the 2020 school year.