Four of Central Oregon’s six major school districts could receive millions in state grants — including more than $14.3 million for Bend-La Pine Schools — if the state Senate passes the Student Success Act this week.
About $475 million of the $2 billion Student Success Act, which aims to improve K-12 education through a business activities tax, would go toward Student Investment Account grants. School districts would receive these funds in 2020, according to Dae Baek, the senior economist with the Legislative Revenue Office.
Baek said that funding for the grants is determined by the number of students in a district, with students that cost more to educate — English-language learners, students experiencing poverty, students with special needs, and more — counting as 1.5 students. According to House Bill 3427, these grants can be used in a variety of ways, including addressing students’ mental health, assisting underprivileged students, increasing instructional time and more.
Bend-La Pine Schools would receive about $14.3 million in grants from the state, according to data from the Legislative Revenue Office. Only four districts in the state would receive more: Portland, Salem-Keizer, Hillsboro and Beaverton. Portland Public Schools would take home the largest grant, at about $39.5 million.
If the Student Success Act passes, Bend-La Pine Superintendent Shay Mikalson said he would use the grant money to reduce class sizes, boost health and safety services, increase time students spend in class and continue the district’s investment in career and technical education, the arts and extracurricular activities.
Redmond School District would receive slightly more than $6 million in grant funds.
Crook County and Jefferson County school districts would receive about $2.4 million and $2.7 million in grants, respectively. Sisters School District would receive slightly less than $840,000, and Culver School District would have about $630,000 in grants.
On May 1, the House passed the Student Success Act on a party-line 37-21 vote, with no Republicans supporting the bill. This includes former Bend-La Pine School Board member and first-year lawmaker Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend. She said she supported the bill’s goals, but she called it an “unfair tax to small businesses” at an April 29 hearing of the Joint Committee on Student Success.