Elk Trail has highest cost per student in District 9

The Board of Directors of Jackson County School District 9 held a work session on Wednesday, Oct.12, prior to their regular meeting, where they discussed budgets and possible school consolidation.  Superintendent Rickert stated that financing shortfalls were continuing and that all ideas to solve this problem are welcome and will be considered.  She stated that there would continue to be full communications with the public. The district will get the facts out and solicit public input.  District decision-making framework asks three questions:
·    Is this expense in time and/or money clearly in the educational best interests of children?
·    Is it fiscally, contractually and politically feasible?
·    Is it mandated?

After answering these questions, low scoring things must be critically examined to determine if they should be funded.

Business Manager Scott Whitman reviewed the projected financials, which show a deficit of $1,855,216 for the 2011/2012 year and an additional $1,306,641 deficit for 2012/2013.  This would cause the fund balance fall to $1,311,208, which is significantly below requirements.  Therefore, all means of savings must be considered.  This will be a continuing process throughout the year.

This meeting focused on the possibility of savings through school consolidation.  Enrollment and costs per student for each school were reviewed with analysis showing that Elk Trail Elementary and Lake Creek Learning Center should be examined in more detail.  Lake Creek has 48 students in grades K-5 and has a 2012 budget of $241,601 of which $155,382 is obtained through a grandfathered Remote Elementary Grant.  This brings the district expenses down to $86,219, which is the lowest cost per student in the district.  Because of this no changes at this location would be proposed.

On the other hand, Elk Trail, which has 104 students in grades K-3, has a budget of $572,441 and the highest per student cost in the district.  Of the 104 students, 33 are from Trail, 59 from Shady Cove and 12 from Eagle Point.  There is an unused wing available in the Shady Cove School and 68% of the Elk Trail students are from the Shady Cove area.  If this consolidation occurred, there would be an estimated cost saving for the district of $234,196 while maintaining teacher staffing and present class size.

Many written questions were submitted by audience members covering topics including transportation, security, school ratings, and how unused property would be utilized.   All questions were addressed.

The workshop also addressed a public records petition  from board member Jim Mannenbach wherein he submitted a request to the district attorney to review the school district’s decision not to provide him a copy of board meetings on a new DVD or USB flash drive. The district attorney denied Mannenbach’s request on the basis that the district procedures are in full compliance with requirements.

At the regular meeting, new student representatives Loresa Mayfield and Tyler Downing made their report and Mountain View students Bryna Thrash and Charles Jacobson were recognized as super stars for their accomplishments throughout their time at Mountain View.  Teacher Julie Hubbard was selected by her peers for special recognition for her efforts in having a model classroom and making it a happy place for students all who made grade level advancement.

Mayor Bob Russell and City Councilor Bill Fierke presented the school district with a beautiful wedding kimono as a gift for display from Eagle Point sister city Showa, Japan.  They then gave a presentation and passed around pictures from the trip to Showa made by a group of eight people representing Eagle Point at the invitation of the people of Showa. 

Jay Schroeder, Language Arts Teacher at Eagle Point High School, gave the Employee Association Representative report.  He discussed his decision to be a teacher and the time commitment required.  He said he has a love for kids and the ability to change lives is very rewarding.  He indicated that he thinks the district is being “hard-nosed “ in bargaining, which may cause teacher turnover.  He pointed to a proposal, which would require teachers to be on site for 40 hours per week as a major issue.  Four other teachers made similar comments during the public forum.  They all indicated that most teachers now work more than forty hours and this proposal hurts morale and is unnecessary.

Two parents from Elk Trail, Twyla Williamson and Christie Martin, discussed alternatives to closing the school from changing bus routes to expanding boundaries to forming a charter school.

District Administration reports included a review of the Eagle Point High School 2010-2011 report card by Principal Barber and Assistant Principal Rupp.  The overall rating is outstanding due primarily to the significant academic improvement attained.  They credited the efforts of teachers and students not only at the high school but also of others who lay the foundation in earlier grades for this improvement.  They particularly gave credit to Superintendent Rickert for her leadership.

Dr. Mondale reviewed the continuous improvement goals and programs in place to attain them.  There have been improved scores in math and language arts as a whole and in all sub-groups.
By Bill Fierke
For the Independent


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