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Budget Categories and Fiscal Policies

The Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service Outdoor School program expects participating districts to adhere to standard accounting, procurement, and contracting policies. This includes, but is not limited to, dividing costs into two broad classifications:

  • Direct costs are the costs for activities or items associated with the Outdoor School program. Districts will report these costs within four categories:
    • Stipend/Personnel
    • Program Costs
    • Provider Fees
    • Unreimbursed Transportation

We provide examples of allowable and prohibited costs for each of these budget categories below. Our video about using Measure 99 funding to support students with disabilities at outdoor school provides additional examples of allowable costs: Measure 99 Funding for Students with Exceptional Needs video (8 minutes). 

  • Indirect costs are the cost of operating your school or district that you cannot identify as part of the Outdoor School award. Districts may not include these costs in their Outdoor School reported costs. 

Please note: In 2021-2022, the OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program will add indirect cost support to the district's reimbursed costs if the district submits their Outdoor School report by the 2021-2022 deadline (July 31, 2022).

If the district meets the 2021-2022 reporting deadline, the Outdoor School program will include $3.50 per participating student (no less than $500 and no more than $20,000 per district) in the district's final invoice / reimbursement.  OSU will restate this deadline and the indirect support levels in the district's work order of approved funding for the 2021-2022 school year.

Again - in 2021-2022, district submitting their reports by the deadline of July 31, 2022, will receive this indirect cost support. Districts submitting their Outdoor School reports after July 31, 2022, will not receive the indirect cost support funds

Stipend/Personnel Expenses

These are the district or school's costs to pay in-house staff (employees that the district pays payroll taxes for) or contractors who help with outdoor school program set-up and attendance. This could include college students, teacher’s aides, translators, nurses, or one-on-one aides.

The OSU Outdoor School program will reimburse pay that is:

  • not covered by other sources, or
  • for outdoor school work-time outside of normal school and sleeping hours.

For example, within a 24-hour day, we subtract:

  • seven hours for the school day, and
  • eight hours for sleep
  • leaving nine hours as the largest possible reimbursement requested.

Of those nine hours, the district should invoice only the hours worked. This also assumes the district funds the seven-hour school day through other sources.

The district's stipend or personnel costs can include:

  • gross wages,
  • payroll taxes,
  • health insurance,
  • retirement benefits,
  • accrued leave liability, and
  • workers' compensation insurance.

The district's invoice can include staff time spent on planning and attending outdoor school and preparing the final Outdoor School program report when these tasks are performed outside the seven-hour day paid by the district.

The district's invoiced costs can include pay for substitutes if the substitute:

  • oversees students who did not attend outdoor school.
  • covers classes of a teacher attending outdoor school.

The Stipend/Personnel category does not cover the cost of:

  • volunteers,
  • parents,
  • personnel who perform the function of bookkeepers, accountants, or administrative service staff,
  • audit services,
  • tax preparation, or
  • tax/corporate filing fees.

Program Costs

These are the district's costs to provide students with a successful outdoor school experience. The district should include the school or district's outdoor school costs in the program cost category if the school or district is the outdoor school provider (such as: site rental fees, food, cook stipends, etc.).

Allowable Program Costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Portable equipment less than $1,000 (such as digital cameras, GPS units, science kits)
  • Emergency and/or first aid kits and kit refills
  • Office supplies (purchased for outdoor school) (e.g. write-in-the-rain paper)
  • Direct mail/postage (purchased for outdoor school)
  • Supplemental Accident Insurance1
  • Menstrual products as required in OAR 581.121
  • Equipment and clothing for staff or students including:
    • Outdoor clothing,
    • outdoor gear, or
    • safety gear.

Please note: The school/district must maintain this equipment/clothing for future outdoor school use. The school/district should not send this apparel or gear home with students. Learn about the Columbia Pro Purchase program.

  • Equipment and clothing cleaning costs (sleeping bags, apparel, boots, etc.)
  • Storage for equipment/material
  • Restoration activity supplies: tree protectors, grass seed, plants, shrubs, trees
  • Miscellaneous tools/hardware, shovels
  • Food or snacks for the outdoor school program (not for classroom activities)
  • Prizes that are educational in nature. For example: leaf or tree identification cards, magnifying glasses, etc.
  • Contractor fees (e.g. background checks and fingerprinting), stipends, and travel costs. These could also include folks working outside of their job description and presenting as:
    • speakers,
    • master naturalists,
    • visibility experts,
    • college students.
  • Translation costs for outdoor school printed material

Hotel costs for staff/chaperones. The school/district must verify the staff/chaperone is necessary. And they must verify that the accommodations are a necessity, not a preference.


Prohibited Program Costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Individual apparel/gear purchased for or used only by one individual (e.g., work pants, hiking or work boots). OSU will reimburse the cost of T-shirts if they are part of an outdoor school activity.
  • Donations to programs or individuals.
  • Flower bouquets, greeting cards, gifts, and gift cards.
  • Office supplies for administrative use. For example: paper, pens, folders, toner, office furniture, etc.
  • Occupancy, rent, utilities, property insurance, janitorial.
  • Communication, telephone, internet, fax, cell phone.
  • Copying and printing costs associated with grant administration.
  • Office equipment costs. The school/district cannot include the cost to buy or depreciate, lease or maintain copiers, faxes, printers, and scanners.
  • Legal expenses.
  • Solicitations and announcements for contract bid postings and job postings.
  • Banking and fiscal transaction fees.
  • Grantees insurance (risk, bonding, liability, D/O, and other).
  • Technology (computer, IT service, maintenance, software, etc.) for administration.
  • Costs associated with the ownership of equipment including depreciation, storage, maintenance, and insurance.
  • Overdrafts, late fees, finance charges, penalties, or interest (accountability of public funds).

OSU will not pay districts for supplies they already own, without documented approval from OSU. This would include items like:

  • science materials,
  • t-shirts, or materials purchased for something other than outdoor school but used for outdoor school.

1 District is expected to ask parents (as part of the standard permission slip) to verify that they do or do not have medical/accident insurance that would cover their child if the child were injured at outdoor school. The OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program will reimburse the district for the premium costs of an appropriate supplemental accident insurance policy (up to $2.00 per student per day) for those students whose parents indicate they are not covered and would (without coverage) not send their child to outdoor school. Also note, the Outdoor School program will not pay any deductibles or other fees/expenses related to this supplemental insurance or any injury/illness experienced by students. Each district is required to have basic liability insurance to cover student injury/illness while at school or under the care and supervision of the school, and as indicated in Prohibited Program Costs, the cost of liability insurance will not be reimbursed by the OSU Outdoor School program.

Unreimbursed Transportation Costs

Unreimbursed transportation costs are the district’s costs for bussing to and from outdoor school. They are only the costs that are not covered by other sources such as:

  • Title 1,
  • Title 9,
  • State of Oregon funds, etc.

The OSU Outdoor School program will also reimburse districts for all costs related to taking students/parents/families from your school to an outdoor school facility. You or your partner organizations might want to do this as part of a school-sponsored outdoor school orientation or information event. Reimbursable transportation expenses can include bus fees, fuel, mileage, driver, or charter costs.

Districts should include costs associated with personal vehicle use in the Stipend/Personnel category. This is only if the district approved the personal vehicle use as a reasonable outdoor school expense.

Outdoor School Provider Fees

Provider Fees are fees paid to an outdoor school provider if the school or district contracts a provider-based outdoor school experience. The provider’s per-student fee should include housing, food, and activity costs. The district should include costs for chaperones to attend outdoor school in Provider costs. The district should divide the total cost (including chaperone costs) by the number of students attending to the per-student cost.

The district should include the school or district's outdoor school costs in the program cost category if the school or district is the outdoor school provider.

Districts should verify that the provider's costs are of fair market value by gathering quotes from two or more suppliers with similar programs.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs are not tracked or reported by the district.  In 2021-2022, OSU will add indirect cost support to the district’s invoice / reimbursement if the district/school submits their 2021-2022 Outdoor School report on or before July 31, 2022.   The indirect cost support will be paid at a rate of $3.50 per participating student (no less than $500 and no more than $20,000 per district).  OSU will state the deadline and payment rates in the district’s work order approving funding for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Receipts and Records

OSU does not require the participating district to submit a full accounting of expenses with your reported costs, however, OSU may request the district produce copies of receipts or other documentation as part of an audit.

The district must retain all documents related to outdoor school costs in support of your Outdoor School reported costs. These documents include, but are not limited to:

  • A roster of the students who attended outdoor school to support the number of students claimed in the district’s payment request.
  • Documents that support service and supply payments submitted as outdoor school costs (e.g., invoice/payment documents).
  • Documentation of transportation costs.
  • Payroll records associated with teacher stipends or other personnel related expenses.

Districts should consider retaining documentation for outdoor school-related expenses for a minimum of six years.

Matching or In-Kind Funding Requirements

There is NO requirement for districts or schools to have or to document matching or in-kind funds for OSU Outdoor School program awards.

ORS 244.040 prohibits every public official from using or attempting to use the position held as a public official to obtain a financial benefit if the opportunity for the financial benefit would not otherwise be available but for the position held by the public official. The financial benefit prohibited can be either an opportunity for gain or to avoid an expense.

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