For immediate release
contact Susanne Smith, (503) 947-5637
April 28, 2009
Castillo Statement on Federal Approval of Stimulus Aid to Oregon Schools
SALEM – State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo issued the following statement today regarding USDOE approval of Part 1 of Oregon’s State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF).
Today the United States Department of Education (USDOE) approved approximately $392 million for the Oregon Education Stabilization portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act SFSF. The Governor and Oregon Legislature have designated $115.4 million of this first round of funding for K-12 school districts in the current 2007-09 biennium. These funds will be distributed to school districts using the primary funding formula for elementary and secondary education in the state. This first installment of the SFSF is designed to provide immediate financial support to schools as a result of recent cuts to K-12 funding.
As indicated in earlier communications from ODE, the SFSF monies will be paid to districts on a reimbursement basis. On behalf of the Governor, ODE must first obtain completed grant applications from districts. The applications forms will be released shortly. Once applications are received, ODE will have to request the federal funding through the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. It is ODE's intent to provide the funds with the regular May 15th payment to districts, if possible.
These fiscal stabilization funds are designed to do two things: help our schools make it through this current budget crisis and invest in the long-term strength of our nation through school reforms that boost student achievement. Our schools now have a rare opportunity to build upon our work to ensure all students graduate ready for life. We must leverage these funds to move forward with Oregon Diploma implementation by continuing to build capacity to help ensure our students enter high school ready for the rigorous curriculum that will be waiting for them
These funds can be used for any allowable expenditure under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the Adult and Family Literacy Act and for facility modernization. The funds cannot be used for maintenance costs; repair of athletic facilities or other facilities for which admission is charged; for improvements to administration buildings or other buildings that do not serve children; or for purchase or upgrades of vehicles.
Specifically, the law requires states to show progress on four reform goals: developing college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students; establishing preschool to college and career data systems that track growth and foster continuous improvement; making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers for all students; and providing intensive support and positive interventions for the lowest-performing schools.
These assurances fit well with the reforms underway in our state and give us an opportunity to take our work to the next level. With the new Diploma requirements, Oregon has created rigorous standards for all students which include the Essential Skills and knowledge necessary to help them succeed in the 21st Century. These standards are now linked to a world-class online adaptive assessment system that more effectively helps students gain proficiency. Our challenge now is to make the PK-12 system changes that are necessary to ensure all students are ready to enter high school prepared for algebra, rigorous science, effective writing, and reading at the high school level.
President Obama has asked Oregon to use these dollars in the best possible way to drive education reform. These incredibly challenging times for our state call on us to focus our spending decisions on what is most important for our students.
All of the stimulus money will be tracked so that the public knows how it is spent, including how many teaching jobs it saves or generates. The federal act requires unprecedented accountability and transparency for how we're going to use these dollars. The Oregon Department of Education is currently working with USDOE and the Governor’s office to set up the tracking systems necessary to account for these funds.
In addition to the fiscal stabilization money, districts will receive grants for special education, low-income and minority students and for raising achievement. Half of these funds are scheduled to flow to school districts later in May. For more information and ODE guidance on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go to: http://stimulus.k12partners.org/.
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