Publication Date


Document Type



Published in the City Club of Portland Bulletin, Vol. 99, No. 1, Aug. 17, 2016

Since 1957, Outdoor School has provided a week-long residential field science program for fifth- and sixth-grade students in Oregon. It has always lacked consistent state funding. Measure 99 (formerly IP 67) proposes would statutorily require a capped annual distribution of $22 million (currently 4 percent) of Oregon State Lottery revenue to an “Outdoor School Education Fund” to provide funding for every Oregon fifth or sixth-grade student to attend a week-long outdoor school program or equivalent. The fund would be managed by Oregon State University’s Extension Service, the entity charged under recent Senate Bill 439 with grant administration, assistance, leadership and program maintenance.

Majority summary

The value of Outdoor School was made clear during your committee’s research process. Witnesses unanimously reported that Outdoor School helps students foster higher self-esteem, teamwork, confidence, interest in science and improved academic outcomes – particularly for traditionally underserved student subgroups such as English language learners. These benefits are key to preparing Oregon students for the 21st century workforce, where demand for environmental and science-literate workers is on the rise.

The majority of your committee struggled with the possibility that the measure’s passage might result in reduced economic development advocacy efforts, particularly by potentially reducing the annual revenue of Business Oregon. However, the rural economic development promised by funding Outdoor School, the benefit to Oregon students and broader investment in science education are compelling reasons to vote for Measure 99. Given Outdoor School’s 59 years of service to Oregonians, its impressive reputation and the volatility of our state’s tax system, your committee’s majority believes it has earned the opportunity to finally enjoy dedicated funds.

Recommendation: The majority recommends a “Yes” vote.

Minority summary

The minority of your committee agrees on the value and benefits of Outdoor School and the need for funding. However, Measure 99 is not the appropriate mechanism to meet that need. Concerning aspects of the measure include the ballot initiative process, voter confusion due to misleading information, the lack of guarantee for equal access to funding and the potential inability to provide as many jobs as advocates predict.

The minority of your committee believes that the measure by dedicating a fixed percentage of Oregon Lottery revenues to Outdoor School, it would redirect funding from other state activities that are proven to be more valuable for our economy, especially in rural areas, without clearly identifying new funding sources to keep these activities whole. The minority supports the recommendations of the previous City Club reports and believes the initiative process is not the appropriate way to allocate funds for Measure 99 or other state programs. This measure bypasses the overall prioritization process of state expenditures, in relation to other worthy needs.

Recommendation: The minority recommends a “No” vote.

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