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Gresham-Barlow district adds programs next year

The Gresham-Barlow School District will add back some middle school sports and start a program for struggling middle school students, according to the district’s 2016-17 budget proposal.

The budget for the 2016-17 school year was “designed to preserve the core of what we provide our students by sustaining the staffing we currently have in place to serve our 11,500 students,” Superintendent Jim Schlachter said in a letter introducing the proposed budget.

This budget contrasts with the recently proposed budget for the Reynolds School District, which calls for reducing staff by about 40 people because of declining enrollment. In the Centennial School District, Superintendent Sam Breyer dubbed that district’s budget “bland,” in his budget message. It maintains programs essentially as they are currently.

The Gresham-Barlow district said it wants to “strategically reinvest” in resources for teaching and learning as part of its $122 million budget.

The district proposes to start an alternative program for struggling middle school students, similar to one at Gresham High School called REY Academy.

It “will be available to support students identified at our five middle school locations for added short-term support,” according to the budget. The district allocated $142,000 to operate the program.

The district cut most middle school sports in 2010, leaving just boys and girls track and field. “The loss of the fall and winter sports that were supported by the district has been a concern since that time,” according to the budget document.

The district is allocating $183,000 to bring back seventh- and eighth-grade girls and boys basketball.

The budget will maintain current class sizes in all-day kindergarten, which started this school year. The district plans to “incrementally drive down class sizes” in other grades and provide some added support for students.

The district also plans to spent $400,000 on new high school math materials.

The Gresham-Barlow budget committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Center for Advanced Learning, 1484 N.W. Civic Drive to take public testimony and vote on the budget.

The school board has scheduled a hearing at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, June 9, and is expected to adopt the budget later that evening.

The meeting will be held at 1331 N.W. Eastman Parkway.