Working to transform the child welfare system.

HB 1568 creates the dropout prevention through farming engagement pilot project for 3 years, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. The purpose of the dropout prevention is to measure the effectiveness and cost-benefit of this type of alternative high school program on improving outcomes for at-risk youth.

The office of the superintendent of public instruction will select 5 pilot projects from school districts that agree to partner with community-based organizations, food banks, farms, and/or gardens to establish an alternative high school program targeted to at-risk youth. Among the selected projects, one of the projects must be a current program successfully engaging low-income and disengaged youth; one project must be located east of the Cascade mountains; and at least one project must be located south of highway 12 and west of the Cascade mountains.

The projects will: target low-income and disengaged youth who have dropped out or at risk of dropping out of high school; provide participating youth with opportunities for community service, work-based learning, and employment during the school year and the summer through a farm or garden program; opportunities to earn core credits and elective credits toward high school graduation; offer youth development support and services, including social, emotional learning, counseling, leadership training, and career and college guidance; and lastly, improve food security for participating youth and the community through the farm or garden program. Participating school district will receive a basic education allocation for each annual average full-time participating youth enrolled in the pilot project, including during the summer. These allocations can be used to supplement other district and community funds to operate the project, and to provide summer stipends for youth; however, these allocations do not apply to a student’s enrollment in courses that are not part of the pilot project.

The office of the superintendent of public instruction will conduct an evaluation after the pilot projects have been operating for 2 years. The evaluation results will be submitted to the legislature by December 1, 2017, along with recommendation for whether the pilot projects should be continued or replicated in other parts of the state.

This section expires August 31, 2018.