SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown and leading Democrats in the state legislature unveiled on Monday a $250 million package intended to supplement education and childcare programs burdened by the coronavirus pandemic over the past year.
The package would be matched by an estimated $75 million in federal funds. Much of the funding is earmarked for summer programs — both academic and extra-curricular. Governor Brown's office said that the funding would be made available "equitably" for Oregon's Black, Indigenous, Tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and children of color populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“The past year has been hard on Oregon kids and their caregivers––especially working mothers––in so many ways,” said Governor Brown. “As COVID-19 recedes from our communities, it’s time to bring back the summer enrichment programs that spark joy, foster creativity, and encourage healing for our children, who have persevered through adversities few generations have faced at their age. And, we must make sure families and children have equitable access to these programs, as we work to eliminate historic disparities that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.”
$90 million would go toward school districts and partner organizations to invest in summer enrichment activities for K-8 students — outdoor activities, performing arts, robotics, and other activities. Schools are encouraged to partner with culturally-specific organizations where possible.
Another $72 million is set aside for summer academic programs supporting high school students who fell behind with distance learning.
$40 million is earmarked directly for community organizations that provide enrichment activities, including day camps and park programs.
For childcare and early learning, $30 million is set aside for Title I elementary schools and Tribes to partner with childcare providers on "wraparound" services for K-8 students who are participating in summer programs, with funding prioritized for low-income, working families. $13 million goes to bolster the state's early learning programs.
“With students getting back into the classroom this spring, we have to facilitate a fulfilling summer for kids and their parents,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek. “They are ready for it and they’ll need more available activities. We are stepping up to encourage schools and community groups to meet the need. The summer is coming, let’s get ready.”
The proposal would draw from Oregon's General Fund, itself largely sourced from taxpayer revenue. It is being presented to the Education Subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, and would ultimately be included in the 2019-21 budget rebalance bill.