HB 3380 creates a mixed-delivery preschool model for Oregon. In preparation, Oregon Head Start Pre-Kindergarten (OPK) received a portion of the funding designated for mixed-delivery beginning in the first year of the 2015-2017 biennium. This additional funding is being used to 1) cover the cost of maintaining current service levels following the 2014-15 OPK expansion, 2) provide all OPK programs with a 3% funding increase to support higher operating costs, and 3) immediately expand the number of children served in Head Start classrooms starting in September 2015, or as soon as possible thereafter and no later than January 2016. See Recap of 2015-17 OPK Funding document for more details.
Due to the need to get expansion funds to programs quickly, and following the legislative intent for these funds, as well as the principles of Oregon’s Equity Lens and the Early Learning Council’s policy principles, the Early Learning Division put together a process to prioritize program expansion in high-promise communities. High-promise communities are defined as communities where there are significant numbers of families experiencing poverty, communities and children of color, a significant number of children on the Head Start waitlists and communities with focus or priority elementary schools[i]. Nineteen of the current OPK programs were designated as Priority 1 programs, and the remaining nine programs were designated Priority 2 (see these attached documents for more details: OPK Race Poverty FP Schools and OPK Programs by County and Ranking for Expansion).
Expansion requests were due August 7th (see OPK Expansion Plan, OPK Program Expansion Request Template, OPK Q&A Expansion Webinar, Webinar Q&A from OPK Expansion Webinar). Sixteen programs submitted requests, 15 from Priority 1 programs and 1 from a Priority 2 program. Requests were reviewed by designated Early Learning Division staff with oversight by Early Learning Council representatives and shared with Oregon Head Start Association representative. Expansion slots were distributed to 12 programs using the following process:
- All Priority 1 programs were ranked based on waitlist ratio and the extent to which the demographics of children being served matched the demographics of the county. The two rankings are averaged to create a final rank within the Priority 1 programs.
- Program requests were reviewed for clear articulation of capacity and outreach plans.
- In order of rank and as slots were available, Priority 1 programs that demonstrated capacity and outreach plans received their minimum classroom increment request or minimum slot request, if no additional classroom was desired.
- This process continued until the funding allocation for expansion slots was distributed. If additional slots had remained, in order of rank, programs would have received additional incremental classroom requests.
- Details about which programs requested expansion and which were awarded expansion slots can be seen on the attached documents: Expansion Requests from OPK Programs, Funding Distribution Tracker Expansion FY2015-16, and Review Requests Process and Expansion Recommendations.
- Early Learning Division program staff and three Early Learning Council members did a final review of expansion slot decisions to ensure full fidelity to the publicized process.
Programs were contacted by phone and/or email on August 13, 2015 to notify them of expansion decisions, and formal award letters and detailed website information about the funding and expansion process being distributed the week of August 17, 2015.
[i] Priority Schools are high poverty schools that were ranked in the bottom 5% (approx.) of Title I Schools in the state in 2012 based on Oregon’s new rating formula and will retain their “Priority School” rating through the end of the 2015-16 school year. These schools generally have very low achievement and growth and need additional supports and interventions to improve in these areas.
Focus Schools are high poverty schools which were ranked in the bottom 15% (approx.) of Title I Schools in 2012 and need additional support in closing the achievement gap and addressing achievement for historically underserved subgroups. Focus Schools will also retain their rating through the end of the 2015-16 school year.