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Study team reveals details of possible Forest Grove school closure plan

None of the proposals would save more than $310,000 a year, and possibly less

The 2011 Summit on Education - Forest Grove School District's effort to gain the community's guidance on looming multimillion-dollar budget cuts - is over, but the reports keep flowing in.

All the reports, compiled by district spokeswoman Connie Potter, are available online at fgsd.k12.or.us,

Here's a synopsis of the report by a study team that looked into the possibility of closing or consolidating one or more schools in the district.

Members who participated: Wendy Armstrong, Ali Marks, Jason Giddings, Cherie Kinnersley, Naomi Montelongo, Joelle Rickard, Sue Yennello, Michelle Warren and Assistant Superintendent Dave Willard.

Would this result in a savings to the district budget? Yes

Estimated savings? $235,000-$310,000

Would this savings be sustainable? Yes

Short summary of discussion: We reviewed much data and considered closure/consolidation of every building. Three scenarios were considered. The three scenarios were to close Dilley [Elementary], to close the district office and to Close Gales Creek [Elementary]. The first two are not feasible for next year. The third scenario could result in the savings above. However, several issues need further review. These are transportation costs and issues, the impact on the community of Gales Creek, legal questions about the original purchase of land/facilities, reconfiguration of grade levels, opening of the new Joseph Gale Elementary School in 2012 and whether all changes should be made at the same time to minimize impact on families and students.

Three possibilities were identified and discussed:

1) Close Dilley. This would mean moving approximately 200 students. Gales Creek could take approximately 30-50 students. The remainder would have to go to other schools, probably Joseph Gale and Harvey Clarke, since they are closest. This option does not seem feasible for the 2011-12 school year.

2) Close the district office and move staff into other buildings. Currently, there does not seem to be room in existing facilities to move district functions at the district office, which includes the business office, payroll, superintendent, human resources, curriculum and instruction, technology, Americorps, food service, nurse, special education, the English Language Learners program and records storage. If places were found, these programs would be scattered throughout the district. Savings would be approximately 20 percent of utilities only, which is approximately $8,000 to $10,000 per year. This option does not seem feasible for the 2011-12 school year.

3) Close Gales Creek and consolidate with Dilley. This could be accomplished without changing boundaries. There are two options. Open enrolled students (approximately 45) would return to home schools and the rest (approximately 70 students) would go to Dilley - or all 115 students would go to Dilley. Savings would be between $235,000 and $310,000 depending on the option chosen. Several factors would impact this estimated savings, including possible loss of revenue if students withdraw from district to home school or attend private school, and possible increase to transportation costs.

Final conclusions: Consolidation of Gales Creek and Dilley into the current Dilley facility seems the only possibility for next year. Consideration should be given to making all consolidation/closure and boundary changes effective during the following year (2012-13), when the new Joseph Gale opens. This could minimize impact to all students and families. If there are any consolidations/closures for next year, there is a need for time to properly plan the details and communicate with parents, students and staff. Consolidation/closure should be revisited for the following year, and these issues should be combined with the reconfiguration concept as the two issues are intertwined.

Another option was brought up to consider closing the existing Joseph Gale for next year and move students to other schools for one year. This was not discussed by the committee but will be reviewed by administration.

Estimated savings of closing Gales Creek:

1. Close Gales Creek and move all students to Dilley - 20 percent on utilities ($8,000); 1.5 FTE classroom teachers ($112,500); .75 FTE library media tech ($28,000); .5 FTE secretary ($25,000); 1.25 FTE special ed instructional aide ($40,000); .3 FTE special ed teacher ($22,500) for a total annual savings of $235,500. Estimated average class size would be 26.7 students.

2. Close Gales Creek and move 45 students back to home school, 28 to Harvey Clarke, seven to Joseph Gale, five to Fernhill, four to Cornelius, one to Dilley - same savings as above, plus: 1.0 additional FTE classroom teacher ($75,000) for a total estimated annual savings of $310,500. The estimated average class size would be 26.3 students. All cost savings and class size estimates are prior to any other district cuts. Estimated savings do not take into account any potential increase to transportation costs or any possible loss of revenue due to students leaving the district. These are best estimates based on available data at this time.

- Jessica Cornwell of the News-Times helped compile this report, which also appears on the school district website, www.fgsd.k12.or.us.