School starts in Mount Angel with restored programs
Mount Angel School District saw a lot of changes when doors opened for school earlier this month, mostly thanks to an improved budget outlook.
We were pretty responsible when we made reductions where we needed to, said Superintendent Troy Stoops. We have a great teachers union that has worked with us to get through the tough times, even when it meant no raises and furloughs.
Three of last years seven furlough days were restored this year – one was actually Friday during Oktoberfest – and the licensed and classified unions agreed to a 1.5 percent increase in pay for cost of living.
After four years of no pay increase and furlough days the last two years, it was time, Stoops said, adding that the unions also got $30 on their insurance premium cap.
The district also funded a part-time art teacher and a part-time band teacher, who is working with both middle school and high school students.
We were able to go to our recall list to bring back employees, so thats always a positive, Stoops said.
The competitive band program was eliminated a year ago when the band director resigned and the district needed to make cuts. Now, although attendance isnt what it once was, students are excited to see it return.
Its my only class thats not boring, said freshman Kaleb Kinyon, who had his own drum set at home so he was able to jump right back into the program.
For other band students, its part of following a family legacy.
I got excited about it because my older brother was in band, said Donovan McIntire, also a freshman. I was really excited to hear they were bringing it back. I love music.
This year is also Mount Angels first year of full-day kindergarten, which is mandated by the state by 2015.
We want to make sure more kids will be ready for first grade to meet the 40-40-20 initiative, Stoops said, talking about the governors goal to have 100 percent of students graduating by 2025.
Additionally, coach stipends were cut in half in the past, but have now been restored to 75 percent.
Also, the district is now paying for half of the school resource officer position. The city had to take on two-thirds of the position in recent years.
Its just a funding change, not a change in coverage, Stoops added.
Technology in the classroom has also been a goal, so every ninth-grader is receiving a mobile device so they all have equal access.
That frees up other computers as well, Stoops said. Technology is a tool that everyone needs every day now.
With some restoration, the district is still looking for ways to continue improving, Stoops said, with technology-based learning and grants.