How Can We Keep Our Commitment to Oregon City's Kids?
The Oregon City School District is one of the leading districts in the state in school improvement efforts. In the last couple of years our students scored above the state average at every grade level and in every subject tested. Few districts can boast of this level of student achievement. However, this record of success is in jeopardy!
Last year we reduced our budget by about $9 million, resulting in eliminating 46 classroom teachers, 16 specialists (including elementary PE teachers), 1.75 administrators and 35 school support positions. With considerably fewer adults in our schools, students don't get the attention they deserve.
At the same time, over the last two years our teachers, administrators, and support staff have given up about $5.2 million in salary and benefits that they were scheduled to receive.
As you probably know, schools all across Oregon are suffering similar program reductions including PE and music programs eliminated, counseling services curtailed, and classroom sizes increased.
School funding has been hit so hard by state budget cuts that we're also seeing many local schools cut entire days from the school calendar. This year Oregon City expects to cut five school days ˆ next year we may have to cut many more.
These cuts matter. Students receive less support and less instructional time. Across this state our ability to provide our students an effective learning experience is in serious jeopardy, and it appears that next year the state may further reduce school funding.
Students only get one shot at a good education. How can we keep our commitment to our children?
First, we'd like you to assure you that Oregon City schools spends most of our money in the classroom. In fact, Oregon City Schools spends a higher percentage of our budget in the classroom than the average district in Oregon.
As well, we spend less than the state average on administration--these are the people who make sure that schools are safe and operating efficiently so that teachers can teach in their classrooms and keep kids from falling through the cracks.
We are leaving no stone unturned looking for ways to save money and squeeze what we can out of every penny. We saved over $150,000 last year through energy conservation alone. We have sought grant funding to support our technology initiatives. We've put over 3,000 volunteers to work. And, our schools foundation donated over $60,000 to support classrooms.
The bottom line is that we are trying to cover the holes due to budget cuts as best we can, but there's only so far we can stretch. Our kids deserve better.
Over the last several years your Oregon City schools have led the state in school improvement efforts but we're worried about losing this momentum due to additional drastic cuts. Our community is only as good as its schools and we are fearful of what will happen to Oregon City as additional days are cut and schools are closed.
We have done everything we can and now its time to continue the conversation with our community about how to step forward for our schools?
Think about this with us: How can we as parents, community members and educators keep our commitment to Oregon City's kids?
We'd like to know what you have to say. Please visit our ideas page and give us your best thinking about how parents and school supporters can help us out. We'd love to hear from you. Let's see if we can come together and support our kids and their schools.
Dr. Roger Rada, Superintendent, Oregon City School District
Larry Didway, Assistant Superintendent, Oregon City School District
Oregon City School District is an equal opportunity educator and employer.