Monday, January 26, 2004

Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon - The Board of Directors met in a work session on January 26, 2004, at 7:00 p.m. in the Middle School Library.  Present were: 

 

Amy Amrhein   )           Chair

 

Chuck Keil       )          

Terry Littleton   )

Heidi Parker     )           Board Members                      

Ellie Thivierge)

                                   

Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent

Loren Luman, Business Manager

Jeanne Peterson, Executive Secretary

 

I.          Call to Order

 

            The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chair Amrhein.

 

II.         Roll Check

 

            A roll of the board was taken and all members were present.

 

III.       Informational Overview

 

            Juli Di Chiro reviwed enrollment projections, revenue outlook, capacity and occupancy at elementary schools, the budget development calendar, savings/income at Briscoe, and potential savings at Lincoln Elementary School.

 

            Ms. Di Chiro reviewed informational handouts which included budget reductions; declining enrollment and revenue; elementary school capacities; cost savings if Lincoln School closed; average savings from reducing one teacher, one educational assistant, one administrator; savings resulting from cutting one day from the school year, and a summary of the school closure report.

 

            A representative of the “For Quality Schools” group presented a statement to the Board acknowledging its work and proposing that the Board postpone the decision on Lincoln School closure to allow public forums to offer a broader based decision for closing schools. 

 

IV.       Small Break Out Groups

 

Below is public input that was gathered from small group discussions.


 

1.  What is your opinion about maintaining four elementary schools and what is your rationale?

 

Performance levels – higher in smaller schools

Stronger academic foundation with smaller schools

Long history of success with smaller schools

Non-classroom space needed to maintain quality

enrollment is not low enough yet to close

we would be stretched if numbers go up

maintain space, smaller community orientated population

not enough data yet – need 4 schools for at least next 2/3 years

opportunity for vision

need to assess stress at Helman & Walker resulting from Briscoe closure

need time to research national trends

if financially possible

clinging to hope that children that have already been moved do not get moved again.

like ability to walk my child to school – less traffic

How do we allocate resources/building in district to meet need of children?  Closing Lincoln not the pressing issue.

Tipping point Ch 2:  150 = best size for a group.  Most people can carry 12 emotional relationships.  Be aware of number of relationships asking teachers to maintain.

Dance at Lincoln – 20 children good size.  Be aware of parents leaving if class sizes increase.  Psychically not good to “sardine” kids.  Right now Lincoln has room to breathe.  Room for volunteers.

Look seriously at not filling all rooms with classrooms.  It’s important to leave room for extra things/rooms.

Increase in children’s anxiety/acting out behaviors across the valley.  Relief in extra rooms.

Extra rooms increase options.  Need breakout rooms if want to co-teach or do something creatively.

Increase class/school size then more parents may home school.  Don’t lose community.

Lincoln is historic symbol of community.  Only school south of Blvd.  Consider this – it’s important facility and location.

Pick up Lincoln and take whole community to AMS.

Long range 4 schools

Size of Lincoln – is 200 enough

250 ideal school size; 2 classes/grade; 5 grades; maybe some blends

Small size at Lincoln is “delightful”

Teacher says: more possibility to know all the kids; small nurturing community; build relationship/community

Walking kids to school is so important for community building

Walker Street getting so crowded

Share school building with some facility that brings in income

Learning facility – spanning the ages; learning center as a neighborhood resource

SOU pre school works

Each of the schools blocking off some space to  - in a sense – paying in part of itself

Lincoln as a K-8

Crowding and how it affects children’s psyche

Maintain 4 schools (neighborhood schools)

Smaller class sizes

Walker at optimum size now

Important to maintain quality at beginning of education (smaller class sizes – good foundation)

Cultural fabric of neighborhood schools

Small class size more important than how many schools (18-24)

If Lincoln stays open commit to 5 years?  (emotional issue of closure)

If it stays open – equalize size of 4 schools

Inevitable with population reductions that Lincoln will eventually close

Wait a year or two to close to keep stability in families that have moved already

Can we psychologically survive another closure 1 year later?

School size more important than class size

250-300 small school

Do we have appeal to new families if 3 schools are packed?

Importance of neighborhood communities

School consolidation sends a poor message to prospective families

 

What do you mean by “small elementary schools?”

 

that children can walk to; less traffic

                        has room for ALL activities

                        approximately 250-280 students

                        room for overflow

 

How do you see this decision affecting the middle and high school?

 

elementary feels larger impact – experience more cuts

                        cut programs at AHS & AMS

cutting a program is not forever – closing a school is

not “either/or”

                   with vision, may not “sacrifice”

                   re-vision entire K-12

                   primary grades foundation important

any scenario will affect middle/high


 

2.   What suggestions do you have for new program offerings at our schools?  What suggestions do you have to increase revenue to the district?

 

four day week/longer hours

increase participation/opportunities for home schoolers (Willow Wind)

provide more programs to attract home school families

explore additional local tax

increase donations from supporters

lease admin offices/move to AMS

grant opportunities

K-8

alternative “magnet” programs

work with property owners/developers to be pro family

affordable housing initiative

pay for extra ½ day of kindergarten

private pay extended day care

renting available space to private entities – AMS, Lincoln or Briscoe

summer programs – private pay

encourage landlords to rent to families

private pay extended day for activities: dance, music, art, creative offerings

magnet schools – creative curriculum

charge for elective offerings

Short Term Suggestions:  Quality teachers

Long Term Suggestions:  K-8 school; arts school; environmental school

Offer something to draw people back from Willow wind and private schools/alternative schools.

Dance, kids’ lab, music, recess, lunch

Holistic education – exercise, ecology et al

Music, dance + arts

Look at research re: successful innovative programs/schools

Fiscally responsible: 4 elementary schools/AMS/AHS and work on funding base….1987 Ashland Schools….reintroduce what we had….magnet schools

Attract people to Ashland with wonderful school environments

Lincoln as teaching lab school with SOU

Waldorf School share space with Lincoln

Lease space to day care

Short Term Suggestions:

Immediately implemented:  K-8?  K-6?

Renting space in each school

Full day kindergarten

Make willow Wind style school at Lincoln

Combination of certified and non-certified teachers

All-day program for WW type

Community collaboration

Children’s activity levy – after school activities; (tutoring? After school childcare?); rewriting

Long Term Suggestions

Affordable housing

Year round school

Renting space in each school

Marketing our community to families

Willow Wind land/Middle school land for affordable housing

Refinancing at lower rate?

Short Term Suggestions:

Dual immersion programs

Elementary charter school

Home school participation in regular school classrooms

Move DO to Lincoln/rent out DO

All day kindergarten

Magnet schools

Fundraising (various)

Major community fundraiser (like Mt. Ashland purchase)

Corporate sponsorships

Grants

Lease surplus space (to schools also)

Long Term Suggestions:

Dual immersion programs

Additional taxing/fees – real estate

 

3.   If Lincoln does not close next year, the Board will have to use other strategies to reduce our budget.  Prioritize the following strategies that we may have to utilize:

 

a.   Reduce the number of elementary classroom teachers, which will result in larger class size.

b.   Reduce the elective offerings at the middle school which will result in reduction of staff, fewer choices for students and higher class size.

c.   Reduce the course offerings or programs at the high school which will result in reduction in staff, fewer choices for students and higher class size.

d.   Reduce the number of school days which will result in salary reductions for all staff (Note:  would need approval from the state and from employee groups).

e.   Reduce classified staff (educational assistants, clerical staff, custodial and maintenance staff, etc.) resulting in less service to students and schools.  (Note:  Certain health and safety standards must be maintained.

 

None of the small groups prioritized the above strategies.


 

Do you have any other budget reduction suggestions?

 

Larger class size with expectation of increased parent participation opportunities.

building level decisions

little bit from everywhere

Potpourri – bits of all of them

Fallacy – asking us to engage in paradox

Education program at Lincoln + rent space + study quality schools

Cost savings now + use summer for visioning/planning time

Find the 20% that gets the 80% results

All elements to solve our problems exist out there

We see what we believe…look from another standpoint

If close Lincoln and have to re-enter, have to retrofit it

using SOU for some AP classes

contracting out custodial or other services

reduction of admin

teacher groupings

find ways for schools to be more site-based decisions

sustainability – ASF

Require and or request parents to work – hours in schools (community service or assist in class)

 

What other suggestions or questions do you have that have not been discussed?

 

If close Lincoln, keep school + staff together – move as a unit.

Key factor in learning is relationship…How do we develop shared vision + dialogue and then make decisions?  Vision is for all of Ashland “chicken/egg”  Want to walk to school? Etc.

**Take time – talk to kids, teachers + parents to figure out how to deal with bottom line

Rather see school at Lincolns’ location rather than on outskirts of town.  Reassess which school to close.

Local sales tax?

Stand for Children Model in Multnomah County

Honda, Gates Grant…Bold idea could bring other funds.  See who presents themselves.  Turn around taxpayer revolt.

ASD + City of Ashland partnership to bring people to Ashland School District

have non-certified teachers for electives as savings

 

IV.       Share-Out From Small Groups

 

Each group reviewed their findings.


 

IV.       Adjournment

             

              There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:52 p.m.

             

Jeanne Peterson, Executive Secretary

 



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