Proposal may jeopardize touted Dallas HS program

DALLAS — Oregon School Boards Association’s proposed priorities for the 2015 legislative session includes a provision that could threaten Dallas School District’s popular Extended Campus program.

The Dallas School Board decided Monday to issue a response, detailing the success of Extended Campus.

Extended Campus is a partnership with Chemeketa Community College that allows qualified students a chance to finish their graduation requirements, but defer receiving a diploma for a year, or two, while taking college courses. Tuition and books are paid for through state school funding.

The OSBA proposed provision, entitled “Post-Secondary Opportunities for High School Students,” in part reads: “OSBA opposes use of State School Fund dollars for five-year high school diploma programs that include a fifth-year for post-secondary enrollment. OSBA believes the state should instead establish a dedicated source of funds to invest in these programs that does not dilute the State School Fund.”

“I guess I just want to know how we feel about that,” Dallas School Board member Lu Ann Meyer said after reading aloud the provision at Monday’s board meeting.

Board Chairman Michael Blanchard said the board had the option of submitting a response. OSBA is taking comments on the proposal, which outlines priorities set by OSBA’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC), until Friday.

“Our response is our district has a track record of a program that we feel is successful,” Blanchard said.

Alex Pulaski, spokesman for the OSBA said, while the LPC does support opportunities for student to earn college credit in high school, it wants to keep state school fund money focused on K-12 education.

“The members of the LPC are concerned about state school fund dollars being used to send students to community college,” he said.

Pulaski said the LPC didn’t suggest another source of funding for programs like Extended Campus; that would be up to lawmakers.

Pulaski stressed the priorities are still in draft form and won’t be finalized until September, after the comment period. Then, all 197 school boards in Oregon have the opportunity to vote on the priorities. He encouraged boards to use the comment period to voice concerns.

It appeared Monday that Dallas School Board members felt strongly they should.

“We are ahead of what (Gov. John Kitzhaber) has asked for in his goals and now you what to make it harder by (requiring) another source of income that is not going to happen?” DSB member Jon Woods said.

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