Guest column from Superintendent Bill Rhoades

Bill Rhoades Happy New Year! I hope our winter break brought with it time for you to spend with family and friends. The year has been one filled with tremendous achievement, accomplishment, outstanding performance and reward for hard work as well as one presenting challenges that have stretched us and our capacities for supporting each other as a school community.

I am proud to be a part of a community that deals so humbly with its successes and with such grace and compassion during difficult times.

I want to thank all involved with orchestrating the uplifting performances and productions our students shared throughout the holidays. A special thanks goes to our Music and Arts Partners, whose volunteerism and contributions to our programs were so apparent during this time.

Honoring our teachers

I want to thank our school communities who found so many ways, tangible and intangible, to honor teachers and school staff over the past weeks. A special thanks to goes to our West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundation whose Honor Our Teacher campaign provided a ready vehicle to show appreciation and support.

It is increasingly clear that education is one of the most complex of all professions, and each day, our teachers and support staff must be prepared to make hundreds of in-the-moment de cisions on behalf of our children. The profession shares with our community grounding in our love of children, our desire to ensure their safety and success, and our desire to make a difference in the world.

While the greatest reward is most often catching a glimpse of a simple smile of understanding appearing on the face of a student who struggled with a challenging problem, we thank you for all the appreciation you have shown.

South Metro-Salem STEM partnership

In December 2012, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District joined with 11 other school districts, three universities, two community colleges and three large employers as a part of the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership.

The partnership establishes a learning community for continuing the development of opportunities to build on Oregon’s talent in math, science and engineering, and for finding the best ways to offer training that would engage teachers in “hands on” and “minds on” teaching practices in mathematics and science courses.

Leaders from Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon FIRST Robotics facilitated this effort, which is also designed to engage school, business and industry partners from across the region.

Governor’s education budget

In December 2012, Gov. Kitzhaber released his proposed education budget for the coming (2013-2015) biennium. The budget proposes K-12 state school funding equal to $6.4 billion ($6.15 billion for K-12 and $253 million in public employee retirement (PERS) savings).

While the proposed budget is an increase from the current $5.7 billion, we anticipate that even at this amount, many school districts will continue to see cuts to programs. Given this, we know school funding will be an important topic for the legislature as they begin their work this month. We will continue to work with the governor and our legislators as the process for developing the state budget continues.

We will do our best to keep you informed and we encourage you to participate in the conversation where possible. Our budget office is preparing a budget forecast for the 2013-14 school year based on these figures, which will be shared in the next couple of weeks. We continue to hold cautious optimism for our ability to maintain our current level of service, but this will take some work in the coming months.

I want to thank you for your support and contributions to a very productive and rewarding 2012. We are proud of what we have accomplished and the level at which we have achieved very challenging goals. While I am no longer surprised by these miracles I continue to be appreciative of the capacity of our community to serve all of our children so well.

As we look forward to the possibility in 2013 I have no reason to expect anything but more of the same — a community following that voice of wisdom and excellence asking us to: Think of the children first. Listen to them, learn about them, learn from them.

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