Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon - The Board of Directors met in a work session Monday, November 23, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in the Helman School Library. Present were:
Keith Massie ) Chair
Ruth Alexander )
Carol Davis ) Board Members
Heidi Parker )
Eva Skuratowicz )
Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent
Jill Turner, Business Manager
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:06 p.m. by Chair Massie.
II. Roll Check
A roll of the board was taken and all members were present.
III. Discuss Impact of This Year’s Budget Reductions with Administrators
Jeff Schlecht distributed a handout of the reductions at the high school and responded to questions of the Board. A copy of the handout is attached hereto and becomes a part of these minutes.
Steve Retzlaff reported the impact at Ashland Middle School. Some of the unintended consequences of class sizes increasing was the lack of appropriate stations in the computer lab, and lack of textbooks for the 7th and 8th grade classes averaging 33 students. The lack of Team Leadership Council stipends has impacted communication across the school and the culture of the school. High class sizes have impacted the ability of teachers to complete parent conferences. In athletics, we have maintained the no cut policy, but the teams are now much bigger so kids are getting less playing time. Teachers are concerned about reducing field trips to two per year. Reading support has gone down to a single half-time position, so there is no support for the 7th and 8th grade students. The reduction in the Child Development Specialist time has made it difficult to provide needed support to families and children. Instead of having all 7th and 8th grade students participate in Spanish, it is only an elective and fewer students are taking the class. With only two days of library time per week, it has impacted curriculum development and other support. Individual needs class sizes have also increased making the interventions less effective. Freezing the discretionary funds and losing the carryover have impacted long-term planning and support.
The three elementary principals talked about what they did and, although they gave individual reports, the common themes were increases in class size. Reduction in kindergarten to half-time has been a huge impact. Reduction in Child Development Specialist time has impacted families when they are in need of even more support during the difficult economy. Parent conferencing has been more difficult due to the increased class sizes. Parent volunteers have dropped off as more parents focus on family needs. Families are moving in together, and they are saying they need support for food and gasoline. With the reduction of educational assistants, supervision is difficult and all elementary principals are taking on supervisory duties at key times during the day. Although office staff was not reduced, the amount of responsibility for office managers has increased. There is less district support due to reductions of the district office staff resulting in more responsibilities at the site levels.
Doug Geygan of John Muir echoed some of the concerns of elementary principals. He felt the outdoor program has been impacted with less support for field trips. Since that is a key part of the curriculum, they are trying to figure out other ways to deliver the instruction. Technology needs are not met. High class sizes result in less effective intervention for students.
Debbie Pew of Willow Wind reported that class size has increased even though space has not. Classrooms are crowded. The site is suffering from the reduction of custodial support. Lack of access to carryover and discretionary funds has been particularly pronounced at Willow Wind. In the past, they have been able to borrow instructional materials from other schools, but they are not available now with high class sizes. Debbie Pew commented that, although she appreciated that the Board wanted to hear about these things, she felt we needed to move on and not focus on the cuts and the negative impacts but focus on the good things that continue to happen in all of the schools.
All administrators commented on the positive attitudes of staff and how everyone was pulling together to make the best of a sometimes difficult situation. All administrators concurred that staff is doing a fabulous job with less resources.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:57 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Jeanne Peterson, Administrative Assistant