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Configuration decision nears for School District

A configuration task force made up of high school students, community members, parents, teachers and administrators is nearing a final recommendation for the long-term configuration of the Estacada School District.

The district is reporting the task force has reached a consensus to recommend a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 grade span configuration for the district.

Should this grade-span configuration be adopted, sixth-grade would be removed from elementary school in order to join seventh- and eighth-grade in middle school.

The group has not yet reached a decision on which facilities to recommend for use as schools.

A district press release stated the group will meet Thursday, Jan. 15, to determine a facilities recommendation.

“While our committee has come to consensus with the recommendation on grade span configuration, everyone should be aware that there are additional concerns to be addressed, specifically relating to facilities and student equity as well as enrollment equality at the elementary level,” a district release sent to media and staff stated.

Before making the recommendation, the group will consider information presented by the Dull Olson Weekes-IBI Group Architects, a firm hired to evaluate the Estacada School District’s facilities.

“The Facilities Master Plan architect will provide information as to the optimal use of our facilities,” the district press release stated. “The committee will also consider how to maximize staff resources to best serve our students.”

Superintendent Marla Stephenson said that while the facilities master plan will not yet be complete, the group will have access to preliminary information.

Stephenson said she hopes the task force will be ready to make its configuration recommendation on Jan. 15.

The recommendation will be given to a cabinet made up of Stephenson; Tina Rhue, the new director of student services; Technology Coordinator Cyndi Rathbun, Personnel Coordinator Sabrina La Londe, Business Manager Donna Cancio and other district leaders.

Stephenson said that before she makes a recommendation to the School Board, she will need time to come up with a plan to implement the recommended configuration.

Mary Ann Swanson, executive assistant to the superintendent, said the configuration recommendation is scheduled to be presented to the school board on Wednesday, March 4.

While it is not readily apparent what all the school board will be required to approve, Stephenson said she plans to ask the board for an endorsement of the configuration recommendation and implementation plan in March.

“I’m going to be putting it to them,” she said.

In the meantime, Stephenson said she will be meeting with PTA groups and potentially impacted staff extensively for their input on the recommendation.

A community forum for additional comment on the recommendation will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18.

The configuration recommendation is expected to be implemented in time for the 2015-16 school year.

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