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School district weighs opting out of ESD

Board also reviews report card results during work session


The short, three-item agenda at the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board’s work session Oct. 21 belied the importance of the topics covered during the meeting.

WL-WV Business Manager Doug Middlestetter spoke first, asking the board to approve a resolution allowing the district to opt out of the Clackamas Education Service District (ESD).

The ESD provides the school district and others in the area with education services and programs, pooling demand to make services affordable. WL-WV receives ESD services that include evaluations for special education students, printing services, Internet connectivity and other technology services. The ESD also meets other needs the school district does not currently have staff time available for.

The Oregon Legislature recently passed a bill giving all districts the option to opt out of ESDs for the 2014-15 school year.

The school board passed the resolution, unanimously approving a notice of intent to withdraw from the ESD. However, Middlestetter emphasized that passing the resolution was not a true indication of the district’s plans. He called the resolution a “placeholder” that preserved the district’s options. The district has until March 1 to decide whether to opt out.

“In essence, we are not notifying them that we are going to opt out,” he said. “This is a placeholder that is required by Nov. 1 to preserve an option if we do decide to opt out.”

SteeleBoard Chairman Keith Steele acknowledged that it was a bit unusual for the board to vote on a “placeholder” but said the Nov. 1 deadline attached to SB250 necessitated the vote.

“Our superintendent, along with the superintendents of other districts and the Clackamas ESD, have been meeting on this topic and will continue working toward a new services and financial model that makes it more attractive for all districts to stay in. ... We wanted to give our leaders the time they need to see if an accord can be reached,” Steele said.

The ESD is funded by money from the state school fund. The ESD receives 4.5 percent of the funding the school district receives through a complicated formula known as “average daily measurement, weighted,” or ADMw.

Of that 4.5 percent, the ESD keeps 10 percent for administrative purposes and returns 90 percent to local schools in the form of services.

Districts that opt out of their ESDs will be required to continue furnishing the ESDs with the administrative funding.

“They still have a building that they have to pay the mortgage for; they have costs that they have to cover whether we are there or not,” Middlestetter said. “There’s an economic logic to it.”

RhoadesHaving passed the resolution of intent to withdraw, WL-WV now waits for the ESD’s response. WL-WV Superintendent Bill Rhoades is in communication with other superintendents around the area, monitoring other districts’ decisions regarding participation in the ESD.

“If one district opts out, it sort of changes the landscape for all the others,” Rhoades said.

“I expect that our superintendent will keep us informed as to the progress of these negotiations and, further, that he will confer with the board before making any final decisions,” Steele said.

Following the ESD resolution, WL-WV’s primary school principals presented in groups of three. Each group has been working as a triad, communicating practices and results among themselves and fostering collaboration between schools. The principals have been meeting in the following triads: Jen Freeborn (Stafford), David Pryor (Willamette) and Charlotte Morris (Trillium Creek); Patrick Meigs (Lowrie), Jennifer Patterson (Boones Ferry) and Lindy Sproul (Boeckman Creek); and Lisa Hawking (Sunset), Holly Omlin-Ruback (Bolton) and Peter McDougal (Cedaroak Park).

Each principal spoke briefly about his or her school’s state report card, highlighting areas of success and weakness. Following the presentations, school board members complimented the principals on their collaborative approaches and thanked each for working together to improve their schools.

StickneyFinally, Deputy Superintendent Jane Stickney presented a more thorough update on achievement data and the new state school report cards. After discussing areas of general strength, she acknowledged some general weaknesses, including results for reading and math in grades three through five, math in grades six through eight and science in grade 11.

She also characterized subgroup growth as an area of district-wide concern. Subgroups include students with, for example, learning disabilities, ethnic or racial minority backgrounds and economic disadvantages.

Rhoades predicted improvement on the next round of state report cards.

“We’re confident that we’ll get results that we can be proud of,” he said. “And we’ll do it in a way that we can be proud of.”

One new tool Rhoades favors using is an assessment from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). Rhoades said it would provide useful data to school leaders as the district moves from the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test toward the Smarter Balanced Assessment required by Common Core State Standards. Rhoades expects the NWEA assessment to provide more immediate data on student performance that teachers can use to adjust strategies according to student performance — essentially, reacting to real-time data that neither OAKS nor Smarter Balanced can provide.

“There’s nothing in this that tells anyone how to get better,” Rhoades said, raising a sheaf of state report cards in his hands.

The school board’s next regular meeting is Monday at 7 p.m. at the district office building, 22210 SW Stafford Road. School board meetings are open to the public, although community members must sign up before the meeting to provide comments. For more information, visit the school district’s website at wlwv.k12.or.us and click on the “School Board” tab.

Kate Hoots can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 112. Follow her on Twitter, @CommuniKater.




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