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Estimating Costs for Outdoor School Applications


Each spring/summer, a district submits a single application for funding for the upcoming school year. This single district application includes requests for funds for all schools within the district that plan to participate in outdoor school. We have created a tool to help schools estimate their outdoor school costs prior to submission of the district’s outdoor school application. This tool is intended to:

  1. Support districts in gathering information that will be needed to complete the funding application, specifically estimates of anticipated outdoor school costs for each school. The OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program establishes funding baselines for outdoor school programs of different lengths. During the application process, the district will indicate whether the baseline funding amount is adequate for each school, or if any schools would like to request additional funds. (The baseline funding amount is NOT a cap or limit on funding.)
  2. Encourage early planning for outdoor school, especially related to identifying anticipated barriers to student participation and requesting funding for resources that will allow for all students’ full participation.
  3. Reduce the need for changes to funding requests after the application period. (Districts will still be able to request additional funding, if needed, after they have submitted their application, but we would like to minimize these requests when possible.)

 

Outdoor school costs are requested and reported in four categories: Personnel/Stipends, Provider Fees, Program Costs, and Unreimbursed Transportation Costs. This document is intended to help districts estimate their outdoor school costs prior to filling out their annual funding application. Outdoor school costs are requested and reported in per-student dollars for each school. Additional information about allowable and prohibited expenses is available on the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service Outdoor School Budget Categories and Fiscal Policies webpage.

Personnel/Stipends

If the answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” estimate the related costs. If necessary, convert a cost to per-student dollars by dividing the cost by the number of students who will attend outdoor school. The per-student costs from this section will be entered into your outdoor school application in the Personnel/Stipends category.

  • Will staff work outside of their typical paid hours to support your outdoor school program, and does the district and/or union allow staff to be compensated for this time?
    • Examples could include: teachers, aides, or nurses spending the night at an outdoor school site; translators for an evening or weekend outdoor school family outreach event; IEP/504 teams planning for or supporting outdoor school outside of their typical paid hours.

  • Will you need extra staff to support your outdoor school program?
    • Examples could include: education assistants, nurses, one-on-one aides, translators, counselors, behavioral specialists, or cooks who will attend the outdoor school program to support students.

  • Will any substitutes be needed to cover the school-based duties of staff who are attending outdoor school?
    • Examples could include: substitutes to cover the duties of teachers, nurses, one-on-one aides, translators, counselors, behavioral specialists, or cooks who are attending the outdoor school program.

Provider Fees (for districts/schools utilizing outdoor school provider(s))

For schools that utilize an outdoor school provider, the per-student fee charged by the provider should include housing, food, and activity costs if those items are billed through the provider. Use the following questions as you estimate provider costs. If necessary, convert costs to per-student dollars. The per-student costs from this section will be entered into your outdoor school application in the Provider Fees category. If your district/school does not use an outdoor school provider (in other words, the district/school develops, organizes, and runs its own program), you will not enter any costs into Provider Fees.

  • How much will your provider(s) charge for the upcoming school year?
    • Provider fees may be different than in previous years. We recommend that you ask whether the provider fees include the following expenses:
      1. Chaperones: Will your school need to bring chaperones? Are chaperone costs/fees included in the provider fees?
      2. Food: Is food included in the provider fees, including food for all students with dietary restrictions?
      3. Accessibility equipment: Does the provider have the necessary adaptive gear or other accessibility equipment that your students may need at outdoor school, such as a beach or all-terrain wheelchair, or will the district need to provide such equipment?
      4. Outreach events: Do the provider fees include provider coordination of or attendance at outdoor school orientations, family information nights, or other similar events that may occur outside of the outdoor school program itself?

  • Do you plan to sign up for any experiences (such as archery or canoeing) that are considered add-ons to the provider’s base price? 
    • Whether an activity is included in the provider’s base fees will vary by provider.

  • Will you need extra private cabin space for student(s) with exceptional needs, their caregiver(s), and/or any additional support staff?
    • If yes, include any related extra costs in Provider Fees if your provider includes site rental in their fees. If your site rental is booked or billed separately from outdoor school provider fees, include the site rental costs in Program Costs.

Program Costs

Costs incurred by the district that do not fit into one of the three other categories are categorized as Program Costs. If the answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” estimate the related costs. If necessary, convert costs to per-student dollars. The per-student costs from this section will be entered into your outdoor school application in the Program Costs category.

  • Will the district/school need to purchase or rent materials or equipment for the outdoor school program? 
    • In addition to lesson plan materials (magnifying lenses, printed materials, etc.), consider:
      1. Accessibility equipment: Will any of your students or staff require accessibility equipment, such as an all-terrain wheelchair or mobile medical equipment, to participate fully in outdoor school?
      2. Equipment/gear loans: Will any of your students require equipment/gear loans such as boots, jackets, or sleeping bags to participate safely and comfortably at outdoor school? If you use an outdoor school provider, do they have these items for loan?
      3. Equipment storage: If the district already owns equipment/gear for outdoor school, or if you intend to purchase some, will you have cleaning and storage costs?

  • Will you have any costs associated with having materials translated to another language or written in braille?

  • Will the district be supplying any food or beverages during the outdoor school program, including snacks and water?

  • Are you hosting any outdoor school outreach events, such as information nights or a family visit to the outdoor school site prior to the outdoor school program?

  • Is the district/school renting an outdoor school site? Will you have any extra site rental or housing costs to accommodate support personnel?
    • If you use an outdoor school provider and site rental is included in their provider fees, do not include them here.

Unreimbursed Transportation Costs

The OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program will reimburse the district for the portion of bus costs not covered by the Oregon Department of Education. Use the following questions as you estimate transportation costs. If necessary, convert costs to per-student dollars. The per-student costs from this section will be entered into your outdoor school application in the Unreimbursed Transportation Costs category.

  • Will you have access to district school buses for traveling to and from outdoor school site(s), or will you require private charter or other transportation services?

  • Do you have any students or staff who will require specialized transportation services to travel to and from outdoor school site(s)?

  • Are you planning an orientation at the outdoor school site that will require transportation for students, parents/guardians, and families prior to your outdoor school experience?

If you have any questions about outdoor school applications, please get in touch! You can reach your Regional Coordinator or email our team at outdoorschool@oregonstate.edu.

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