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Class size reductions a priority in WL-WV budget talks


Superintendent Bill Rhoades shared financial outlook in a public meeting April 24

RhoadesWest Linn-Wilsonville School District Superintendent Bill Rhoades hosted a budget meeting last Thursday to give the public a first look at the district’s financial status.

Cautioning that he was sharing an “incomplete picture,” Rhoades emphasized that the district was still working to finalize the budget.

“At this point in the process, we’re doing our best thinking,” he said, regarding ways to meet the district’s vision, values and goals given available resourdes. Community members were invited to weigh in.

“We’re interested in hearing what questions our community has,” Rhoades said.

He presented a list of new and ongoing priorities for the upcoming 2014-15 school year, including the following top items:

Professional development for teachers.

Reductions in class size.

Classroom support systems.

Full school year and full academic schedules.

Full-day kindergarten and pre-K programs.

Despite having added teachers to schools over the summer and in early September, Rhoades said the district would like to add more, especially in the face of rising enrollment projections. District employment is down from a high of 479 full-time equivalent certified positions in 2008-09 to 422 FTE budgeted for 2013-14 school year. An additional 12 FTE were added for the current school year due to an unanticipated bump in enrollment over the summer. For 2014-15, Rhoades said, the district could add as many as 16 additional staff.

The need for professional development and classroom support is heightened by the new standards and requirements teachers will be working with under Common Core State Standards that will go into effect in 2014-15.

Having discussed investment priorities, Rhoades then provided an overview of the district’s funding. More than 90 percent of district revenue comes from the state school funding formula, with smaller amounts coming from the district’s local option, fees and the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundation. The district has relied on a capital improvement bond, passed in 2008, which will sunset at the end of this school year.The district anticipates ending the school year with a small fund balance, Rhoades said.

The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed budget at a later meeting, to be held May 19 at 7 a.m. in the district’s board room.

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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