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Schools developing plans for SSA funds


February 12, 2020

Supt. Tom Yahraes told the School Board Monday that district staff will use the findings from a community survey and the district’s data to develop a plan to spend some $1.7 million in additional funding expected next school year.

The funding is derived from a new tax on Oregon businesses that have gross annual revenues of more than $1 million, part of the Student Success Act approved last year by the state legislature. The district’s portion of those revenues is called the Student Investment Account.

Late last year, the district offered a survey to the community, staff and parents, asking what they thought should be considered pressing needs. The district received 482 responses, and a committee met twice last month to consider the results and determined which suggestions align with Student Investment Account priorities.

“The language of the act requires us to target disadvantaged students so they can experience a well-rounded educational program and provide support that helps level the playing field,” Yahraes told The New Era.

After determining which suggestions aligned with the SIA, the committee scored each to prioritize spending in them, he said. Now, the district needs to determine whether the suggestions “align with current reality.”

For example, Yahraes said, among the suggestions, some respondents told the district it needs to invest more in technology.

But the district already has a good device-to-student ratio, one to one, he said. At this point, it needs to invest more in “how we use it.”

“We actually have this,” Yahraes said. “We just need to be able to use (the technology) more effectively.”

The district will adjust the suggestions and priorities, he said. “After that, we’re going to start to determine costs associated with the suggestions, then we’re going to prioritize the spending through a forced ranking.”

The administration will finish prioritizing spending and present a complete application and proposed spending to the board for feedback at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on March 9. After board approval, the district will submit the application to the Oregon Department of Education.

The state will provide feedback and could require changes, Yahraes said. Once completed, the spending plan will be folded into the 2020-21 budget.

Among the priorities for the funding, the survey showed strong support for the arts, particularly a K-12 music program, Yahraes said. Many students don’t have the option to take music lessons. “It’s incumbent on us to do the best we can to provide that.”

He said additional priorities included after-school programs, additional summer school support, support for emotional and behavioral needs, counseling support, nursing support, funding to help connect students to local businesses and job shadowing and support for students headed for college or technical schools.

“The state has zeroed in with more certainty to what the allocation will be,” Yahraes said. “That’s somewhere around $650 (per student).”

Based on that, the district anticipates a total of about $1.77 million in additional funding through the SIA, Yahraes said. The Sweet Home Charter School will be able to access funding from that total.

Board members present at the meeting were Joe Kennedy, Jim Gourley, Jason Van Eck, Chanz Keeney, Mike Reynolds, Angela Clegg and Jenny Daniels. Absent were Chairman Jason Redick and Debra Brown.

In other business:

- The board approved the temporary hire of Taylor Rash, Basic Life Skills teacher at Sweet Home High School.

- The board pproved an out-of-state field trip for the high school volleyball team to participate in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3.

- Sweet Home Junior High won the Golden Shoe attendance award for the first time for leading the district with a 92.9-percent attendance rate. Foster finished second with 92.69 percent, and Hawthorne had a 92.65-percent attendance rate.

- Pauly Rogers and Co. reported a clean audit of the School District’s financial statements.

- Received the first draft of the 2020-21 calendar. On that calendar, starting after Labor Day means school will begin on Sept. 8 and end on June 17, 2021.


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