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Critics Question Use Of Public School Funds For Students To Attend Community College

Salem Capitol Oregon

Dave Blanchard

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Oregon school districts that use public school money to pay for high school students to attend community college were put on the defensive Thursday in Salem. State officials say districts covered college tuition for as many as 1,500 students, by delaying their graduation.

Critics say the fifth-year program is an unethical use of K-12 dollars.

Hilda Roselli with the Oregon Education Investment Board told a senate committee it's unsustainable, if more districts do it. "Based on the current rate of use by 26 districts, it could dilute the State School Fund by well over $18 million, over a biennium."

Legislators worry such a financial loss could increase class sizes. But some district leaders credit the programs for helping students graduate.

Gricelda Hernandez-Cortez was the first in her family to earn a college degree. "I am so grateful I was part of the fifth year early college high school cohort because it provided the resource and guidance I needed."

Legislators are considering a two-year phase-out. Program defenders suggest changing it, so it could take advantage of federal funds.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rob Manning is a news editor at Oregon Public Broadcasting, with oversight of reporters covering education, healthcare and business. Rob became an editor in 2019, following about 15 years covering schools and universities in Oregon and southwest Washington as OPB’s education reporter.