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Beaverton teacher shares concerns about district's budget survey

I appreciate all the time and hard work all of you are doing. I know these are very tough economic times, and it is very trying to make decisions on budget cuts. I realize much thought and process must go into these decisions. However, I am very concerned about the survey that was made by the School Board, parents and staff of the Beaverton School District.

I feel the survey is weighted. Most of the items on the survey represent all grade levels and the whole district. How fair is the process when parents and staff of the district prioritize the budget in the survey?

They will see items like all district reading, writing and math for college and career readiness. They will see safety and security district wide. They will see the importance of technology in today's times and evaluating with technology. They will see school days in the year and class size. This affects everybody.

Elementary specialists and electives in high school affect a small minority in comparison. This puts us at least in the bottom half of the survey immediately. Shouldn't we have a survey that considers cuts from all departments and subject areas and grade levels? Isn't this more equitable than picking a few programs on the survey?

I feel that all areas should be cut equally instead of cutting certain areas more than others. It puts some programs more at jeopardy than others. I feel once a program is cut or downsized greatly, it rarely comes back to its original time period with students.

In addition to the above, I feel elementary students learn very quickly and much easier foundational skills of physical education, music and library. They need these core skills to be successful in these subject areas for middle school and high school. Some children don't have family support and finances to develop skills in these subject areas and will fall way behind before they reach middle school.

I would rather see in the survey P.E., music and library at all grade levels. If they had to make cuts in these areas, each grade would have fewer minutes of specialist time per week vs. cutting whole programs or cutting harshly some grade-level programs' minutes per week for students.

I also would like to see other subject areas of all grade levels on the survey. I feel this would be more equitable when it comes to the analysis of the survey to help make decisions of where to make cuts.

I hope you will consider some of these concerns and recommendations. Thank you again for your time, hard work and consideration.

(Jon Onishi is a Lake Oswego resident who serves as a physical education specialist at Findley Elementary School. He submitted the following letter to Beaverton School District leaders.)