Gresham district adds teachers, programs, while others make cuts
The Gresham-Barlow Budget Committee Thursday night approved the district's budget, which includes expanding programs and buying some new teaching materials.
"Thanks to careful planning, the school district is able to make budget enhancements in key areas," Superintendent Katrise Perera said in an announcement of the vote.
"The budget includes much-needed curriculum adoptions, additional staffing to improve instruction and the expansion of a program with a proven track record of closing the achievement gap."
The 2018-19 school year budget now goes to the full School Board for its approval, which is expected to take place at the regular June 7 board meeting.
Gresham-Barlow is adding programs while nearby districts are facing cuts. The Reynolds School District announced a $2.7 million shortfall and Centennial a $1.2 million budget gap. Both districts are proposing multiple ways to save money.
To lower class sizes, Gresham-Barlow plans to add three elementary school teachers to the district for the 2018-19 year.
The Gresham-Barlow budget earmarks funds for materials to teach health in all grades, science curriculum for grades three through eight and materials for English language learners in middle and high school.
"The curricula adoptions will provide teachers with updated digital and hardcopy resources aligned with our current state standards that support equitable learning opportunities for the students we serve," Perera's budget message said.
The district also plans to put a program called AVID, Advancement via Individual Determination, into the elementary schools. Currently AVID is offered at middle and high schools in the district.
Although AVID is designed to guide children who might not consider themselves college material to college, it also inspires more students to complete high school and graduate. Some AVID programs see a 100 percent graduation rate, compared to the state average of 74 percent.
AVID is a San Diego-based nonprofit organization and nationally recognized college-readiness system, used locally in both the Reynolds School District and Gresham-Barlow.
"The core of the program places a special emphasis on growing writing, critical thinking, teamwork, organization and reading skills," Perera's message said. The district will use both grant funds and general operating funds to expand AVID.
New AVID schools in 2018-19 will be Highland, Hollydale, and East Gresham elementary schools and West Orient Middle School.
"With the addition of our newest sites, we will have half of our Gresham-Barlow schools providing support to students through AVID. Plans are under development to expand the program to even more schools in the future," Perera's message said.
The budget also provides funding for the district to study whether to implement a dual language program. In these popular programs students are taught in two languages. Portland Public Schools offers dual language programs in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
"The Gresham-Barlow School District is fortunate to be making budget enhancements for next school year. While funding in the next biennium (2019-2021) may bring new challenges due to increasing PERS costs, we will continue to work collectively to take the Gresham-Barlow School District to the next level and prepare all of our students for an ever-changing global world," Perera concluded in her budget message.