Reality sinks in
Beaverton schools anticipate cutting 344 staff positions and more next year
Beaverton schools are bracing for drastic changes next year.
Beaverton School District leaders are looking at losing 344 staff positions in the 2012-13 school year.
Teachers will have significantly larger class sizes.
Every school will lose its certified librarian.
District funding for golf, water polo and fourth-level teams is going away.
And, students are looking at fewer course offerings.
'These are investments we can't afford due to a lack of revenue," Superintendent Jeff Rose told about 200 people gathered April 19 at Sunset High School for the district's first meeting of the Budget Committee.
All of these changes and more are on the horizon as district leaders grapple with a $37 million funding shortfall after already carving $105 million from school budgets in the last four years.
'This perhaps will be one of the most challenging years in the history of the Beaverton School District,' Rose said of the nearly $465.2 million proposed budget he presented to the committee. 'The proposal is painful, and the decisions will be difficult.
'It will be very hard on our staff, students and community, but we must take these steps to build and invest in a more sustainable, consistent and equitable K-12 education system given the finite amount of funds the district will receive.'
As the district enters its fifth year of budget reductions due to the state's continued economic challenges, it will no longer be able to keep reductions away from the classroom, Rose said. These proposed cuts will be felt by everyone.
'There is no bucket of money or opportunity to cry wolf,' he said of the public perception that the district will somehow be able to come up with funding to restore some of the positions and programs on the chopping block.
Rose painted a picture of the reality schools are facing for next year.
At the elementary school level, staffing ratios for kindergarten jumped from 24 students to one teacher to 28:1, while first through fifth grades went from 26:1 to 30:1. In some cases, they will also lose an assistant principal.
In middle schools, the classroom staffing level will go from 24:1 to 30:1. Four assistant principals, four school management support positions and some secretaries will also lose their jobs.
High schools will see classroom staffing ratios increase from 26:1 to 30:1 as well as staffing reductions, including campus monitors. Counselors will also see their case loads increase.
While staffing ratios affect how many employees will return to schools in the fall based on student enrollment numbers, they do not reflect actual class sizes, which will likely be much higher, district officials say.
Across the district, some services for English language learners and special education students will be cut. Speech pathologists, school psychologists, autism spectrum disorder specialists and adaptive physical education teachers will have increased case loads, and the district's inclusion support team will be eliminated under the proposed budget.
Rose would not reveal how many school days the district is considering to cut from the calendar, as the district is in the midst of negotiations with its labor unions. At a cost savings of $1 million per day, if the district were to cut furlough days from the school calendar to reflect what $37 million looks like, students would be out of school by mid April and staff would be hit with a heavy financial burden.
"That option is a bad educational model for students, and it's not sustainable," Rose said. "The next year we would have to do it again and again until the economy turns and we can fill the (state's school funding) void."
While last week's budget revelations were bleak, Rose said he was confident the budget team was building and investing in a more strategic and sustainable K-12 educational system that reflected the priorities of the community, district's strategic plan and goal to ensure students are college and career ready upon graduation.
'We will get through this very difficult year ahead, but our schools and services will look different next year,' Rose said. 'These are necessary and yes, very painful decisions that we present for 2012-13.'
To read the complete budget proposal, visit www.beaverton.k12.or.us .
"Our schools will look different, but I believe we will move forward and become even stronger," Rose added. "I know we have the strength to get through this.
"We must consider new paradigms and continue to look for ways to innovate. We must call on our community to co-labor with us like never before. Together, we can and we will rebuild and reinvest in our Beaverton K-12 school system."
The Beaverton School District Budget Committee will hold a community listening session on Tuesday, May 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Sunset High School Commons, 13840 N.W. Cornell Rd., in Cedar Mill. The meeting will be devoted solely to public comment and will likely draw hundreds of community members.
The Budget Committee is expected to approve a 2012-13 proposed budget at its May 17 meeting. The School Board will then hold a hearing and consider a resolution to adopt the budget at its June 4 meeting.