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Year in review

12 months of stability, gains


Primary schools earn architecture awards

In January, Trillium Creek Primary School in West Linn received the grand prize in a National School Board Association architectural design competition. Lowrie Primary School, which has an identical design, shares the award by extension, although only one school could be entered.

by: FILE PHOTO - Although West Linn's Trillium Creek Primary School was the official winner, Lowrie's identical design earns it a share of the National School Board Association's architecture award.Both buildings, opened in September 2012, boast an array of environmentally conscious features — including a wind turbine and a rooftop garden. What most impressed the NSBA jury was the ability to engage students.

“Truly a design that would engage and excite children, this building creates cohesive classroom neighborhoods organized around an open media center in the heart of the school,” the jury wrote in its statement.

School district finances stabilize

The budget outlook for the West Linn-Wilsonville School District looks good for the next biennium, Superintendent Bill Rhoades told the school board in May. With $6.75 billion in Oregon state funding for schools, WL-WV’s anticipated share of state funding would allow the district to regain some ground lost during recent lean years, although the district did not anticipate adding days to the school calendar or significantly reducing class sizes.

In June, the school board charted a conservative approach, adopting a 2013-14 budget of $112,569,204. Although parents expressed a preference for adding teachers to reduce class sizes, the budget committee recommended keeping staffing levels essentially the same, choosing to build reserves. The 2013-14 budget projects an ending fund balance that could provide that buffer.

The board adopted the budget committee’s recommended approach, including prudent additions of staff at a sustainable level that would preclude layoffs in the next biennium.

Fernandez, Molatore join West Linn- Wilsonville School Board

In a May 21 special election, voters in West Linn and Wilsonville elected Regan Molatore and Rob Fernandez to the school board. At the same time, board chairman Keith Steele won re-election. by: FILE PHOTO - From left, Keith Steele, Regan Molatore and Rob Fernandez celebrate their wins in a May 21 special election.

Fernandez rejoined the school board after previously serving a partial term, in 2010, following a board member’s resignation. He has served on the district’s budget and bond oversight committees. A resident of Wilsonville, Fernandez runs Carisbrook Technology Services, a management consulting and technology support services company. 

Molatore is a Wilsonville resident, a graduate of West Linn High School and an attorney. She said one of her first priorities, along with working with board members and administrators, would be to learn more about the West Linn and Wilsonville residents she was elected to represent.

A West Linn resident, Steele has served on the school board since 2009. Before that election, he served on the school district’s budget committee and was co-chairman of the 2008 capital bond campaign.

School bus strikes, kills pedestrian

A school bus owned by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District and operated by First Student Inc. was involved in a fatal traffic accident in Southeast Portland July 9, striking two pedestrians in a crosswalk at the corner of SE 148th Avenue and Division Street. Renee Jean Bates died of her injuries at a Portland hospital. Her husband, Shawn Dale Bates, did not require medical attention.

by: FILE PHOTO - A bus owned by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District and operated by First Student struck two pedestrians, killing one, on a street in Southwest Portland in July. Two children on the bus at the time were unharmed.Two passengers on the bus, both children, were uninjured. The passengers were secondary school students attending a year-round special needs program in Portland. The school district contracts with First Student for bus services.

The bus driver, 55-year-old Billie Jean Neel of Gladstone, was cited on July 11 for careless driving causing death and two counts of failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

District prepares for Common Core

The buzz has been building around Common Core State Standards for some time. This year, the near-nationwide changes to curriculum and standardized testing are taking root in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. Common Core is a multi-state-led initiative designed to create consistent academic standards nationwide. Though it will be implemented fully in the 2014-15 school year, WL-WV teachers already are training and adapting curriculum to meet Common Core standards in English language arts and math.

The new standards will include a new test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which will replace Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. SBAC testing in English/language arts and math will begin in the spring of 2015, although OAKS will remain in place this school year. One big difference: SBAC will incorporate more writing in all areas than OAKS does, such as by calling for a short, written answer to a math question.

SBAC will be given to students in grades three to 12 only once per year. Concerns have been raised that states may lack sufficient funding for training and curriculum. Another potential issue is that standardized testing scores may drop in Oregon, something that has happened in districts that have adapted Common Core standards ahead of the deadline.

In WL-WV, administrators predict the district will be ready for the changes.

Enrollment surges

In September, unexpectedly high numbers of last-minute registrations throughout the district led administrators to shuffle class lists, add new teachers and open new classrooms to keep class sizes under control. The district reported total enrollment of 8,609 in June and 8,702 is September 2013, for a total gain over the summer of 93 students.by: FILE PHOTO - In Wilsonville and West Linn, more students were heading back to school in September than left at the end of the school year in June. The school district reported a last-minute surge in enrollments and responded by hiring new teachers and opening new classrooms in September.

While the district always experiences some last-minute enrollments, the volume this year was somewhat surprising. The district’s last-minute hires brought the number of full-time equivalent teaching positions, or FTEs, to 470 in September, up from 444 last May.

New school plans advance

In October, Metro regional government added to the urban growth boundary a 40-acre parcel of district-owned land outside Wilsonville known as the Advance Road site. Metro’s decision clears the way for the district to begin the planning for a new primary and middle school in Wilsonville.

by: FILE PHOTO - The school district hopes to build a middle school and a primary school on this property outside Wilsonville on Advance Road. Because the district’s enrollment models predict the addition of more than 300 middle school students to the Wilsonville area during the next few years, building a middle school is the district’s priority. Inza R.Wood Middle School is above capacity with 715 students and has been using portable classrooms since 2007.

Construction will have to wait, however. The district’s current capital bond will expire in June 2014, and no formal decisions have been made about asking taxpayers to support another capital bond for the school district.

Our schools ace new report cards

Five West Linn-Wilsonville schools received top ratings from the state in report cards released by the state Oct. 10. West Linn High School and four primary schools, Bolton, Boones Ferry, Stafford and Sunset, were rated Level 5 based on their performance during the 2012-13 school year. The district’s only charter school, Three Rivers, also received a 5.

Six other schools, Wilsonville High School, Inza R. Wood and Rosemont Ridge middle schools, and Boeckman Creek, Cedaroak Park and Willamette primary schools were rated Level 4, putting them at or above the state average. The district’s remaining primary schools, Lowrie and Trillium Creek, were not rated because 2012-13 was their first year of operations.

Athey Creek Middle School received the district’s only Level 3 rating. While the school met overall academic achievement standards with all students, some subgroups missed growth targets for reading and math.

The district’s alternative school, Arts and Technology High School, received a Level 1 designation. With only 98 students enrolled in 2012-13, the school includes disproportionate percentages of economically disadvantaged (42 percent) and disabled (35 percent) students in comparison to the rest of the schools in the district. The school received its low ranking after missing testing targets in reading and math, and also failing to test all students.

Three Rivers’ charter renewed again

The school board voted unanimously to renew Three Rivers Charter School’s contract Nov. 13. The school district and the charter school are still negotiating terms for the new agreement. TRCS board members wish to increase school enrollment, gradually adding students until the school’s current 100-student capacity has reached 150. Adding students is a matter of financial need, TRCS representatives said, and the demand for greater enrollment is evidenced by the surplus of applicants each year.

Three Rivers is also requesting an increase in the amount of funding the district passes from the state to the school. Since the charter school opened in 2001, WL-WV has provided TRCS with the minimum required amount, 80 percent of the funding WL-WV receives from the state for TRCS students. The school is asking WL-WV to increase that percentage to 95 percent. Negotiations are ongoing.



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