by: FILE PHOTO - Warren Elementary is open to receive 100 students through open enrollment this month. As of March 10, 14 students from outside the district have signed up to attend the school. Low enrollment rates at Warren Elementary School have Scappoose School District officials thinking about how to draw more students to the K-3 school.

Aside from refocusing the school’s teaching and learning approach, the district has begun discussions on what Warren might look like if it was expanded to accept students from kindergarden through sixth grade.

Joe Lewis, a Scappoose School District board member and chair of the committee tasked with maximizing the efficiency of school district buildings, posed the idea Monday, March 10, at a school board meeting.

“There are some additional costs and changes that would be required there,” Lewis said of potentially adding three grade levels to the school. “Not only teaching staff, but some P.E. changes that would be required with having bigger kids on the playground.”

District Superintendent Stephen Jupe said the idea is still fairly new, but he hopes to bring it back to the board at a later meeting.

“It’s in its early stages, but we need to look at the pros and cons,” he said. “It’s going to be reasonably expensive. We’ll be meeting before spring break to push it further. I’d like to bring it back to the next board meeting in April.”

WilebskiThe district has already kicked off an effort to draw more students through adjusting its teaching focus. Warren teachers have employed a style of teaching known as proficiency-based learning, which focuses on meeting students at their current proficiency levels rather than their grade levels.

“I have been working on an initiative to create a proficiency-based teaching and learning model that is student-centered and allows students to move according to their ability level, not just stick to the time-bound traditional methods of grouping students,” Jupe said. “The traditional piece is clearly not working for two groups of kids; those who struggle and kids who are much further ahead and need to be moving into material that can challenge them.”

Lewis said refocusing the school completely would also put pressure on the district to ensure all Warren teachers are familiar with proficiency-based methods.

“I believe proficiency-based teaching and learning is the future of education,” Lewis said. “I think we should head that direction. We will head that direction at some point anyway. I think that would be an attractor to the Warren school if we made it known in the district and the region at large that all the classrooms here are using that approach to teaching and learning.”

Jeff Wilebski, lead teacher at Warren Elementary, said the school’s focus on proficiency in reading has bolstered reading levels and now some of the students in the school are reading at a sixth-grade level. Wilebski said a similar math-based program will be introduced next school year.

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