The Woodburn School District started the year with 5,778 students. Thats 109 more than last year, and 1,340 or 30 percent more than we had 10 years ago. In the same time period, our ending fund balance has gone from $12 million to $2.5 million. Our student population continues to grow, and we dont have the resources to build new facilities to accommodate them without a bond.
In response, the school district is moving forward to develop a bond measure that will be presented to the community during the primary election in May. The bond is unique in that it will be revenue neutral, which means taxes will not increase for property owners. This is unique and possible because an old bond for the school district will retire before the new one takes effect.
The next step for the school district is to identify priority projects for funding. Forty people have joined a planning committee tasked with this project, including teachers, classified staff, administrators, school board and community members, as well as parents and elected officials. The committee has started to meet and will make its recommendations to the school board at the end of January 2014. As part of this process, the planning committee will host community meetings at each of Woodburns schools beginning soon. You can find out when a meeting is scheduled at your school by contacting your school office or checking the district website.
The Woodburn School Board will approve the list of projects in January, and vote on the bond resolution at their regular Feb. 20, 2014 meeting. Assuming it passes, our community will have the opportunity to vote on the bond during the May election.
The timing is right for this project. The economy is in recovery, and the school district is focused on what we need to achieve after updating our Strategic Plan, which was unanimously approved by the school board in August.
The Strategic Plan covers the years 2013-2018 and drives decision-making from the classroom to the board room. By way of a reminder, the three goals for the school district are: making sure all students graduate career- or college-ready; building a culture of engagement with students, parents/guardians and community members; and being good stewards of public resources and community trust.
The school district has made significant improvements in how we communicate with the public about these goals. In the past, we have used our printed newsletter, a basic website and regular media releases to local news outlets. It is clear that we needed to do more, however.
Recently, we redeveloped our web site (www.woodburn.k12.or.us) to make it easier to navigate and use, as well as removed dated information that is no longer applicable. We are gathering email addresses through this platform to open up a direct line of communication with the people we serve.
If social media is your preferred method of communication, we hope you will find us on Facebook and eventually Twitter. Our Facebook page is taking off (www.facebook.com/WSD103) and we would appreciate you joining these discussions. I also plan to start tweeting in January, much to the amusement of my children.
Communication is the vital link that allows us to stay involved and share information with you. People receive information and communicate using a variety of methods. It is important that we be responsive to that by expanding our reach. In the short-term, these efforts will help us share information about the school bond. Long-term, it will create a legacy that better serves our community and students.