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Scappoose superintendent optimistic about budget

JupeThe Scappoose School District Board of Directors on June 9 adopted a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Superintendent Stephen Jupe said the district will again maintain staffing levels and is working to reduce class sizes.

“I think the budget this year has been the best I’ve seen for a long time in terms of revenues, and we’ve been able to make good use of those revenues with students and learning,” Jupe said.

Jupe said one of the major efforts among administrators is to reduce class sizes and retain staffing levels.

“We’ve made a conscious effort to provide more resources for teachers and to reduce class sizes, particularly for K-3,” he said.

Among other changes, the school district will increase its number of teachers at Warren Elementary School to spread out class sizes in both Warren and Grant Watts elementary schools. Jupe said the district is aiming for 22 to 23 students in each class at grades K-3, which he said is a more appropriate class size for that level.

Jupe said once students get into fourth grade, class sizes begin to vary with numbers between 28 and 30.

“We try to cap that at less than 30 in middle school. It depends on the subject,” he said. “We have to stick to highly qualified teachers. In the old days, we could flex. Now there’s no room for flexibility.”

Jupe said class sizes for the high school and middle school vary as well, but the district shoots for numbers in the low 20s.

“I’m excited about the attempt to reduce classroom sizes in K-3,” Jupe said. “If we can reduce class sizes, it bodes well for success. There’s more opportunity to focus on individual needs.”

As far as the district’s staffing levels, Jupe’s optimism continues. Following staff cuts in the 2012-13 school year, the district was able to maintain its staffing levels through the most recent school year. Jupe said the case is the same for 2014-15.

“The staffing levels are probably better than they’ve been in a long time,” he said, noting he still has concerns about keeping the budget sustainable.

Looking forward, Jupe said the school district is preparing to implement full-day kindergarten in just over a year. That program, however, will be completely funded by the state.