Jupe: More students needed at Warren to even out class sizes

Photo Credit: FILE - Warren Elementary School, the smaller of Scappoose's two K-3 elementary schools. The superintendent of the Scappoose School District is hoping that enough families take him up on a request that they move their students to the school that the district will not have to select students at random to transfer from Grant Watts Elementary School, which is located in Scappoose proper.The superintendent of the Scappoose School District has asked parents of students at Grant Watts Elementary School to consider asking for their children to be reassigned to Warren Elementary School, the district’s other school for kindergarten through third-grade students.

In a Wednesday, Aug. 13, letter, Superintendent Stephen Jupe said the district may need to institute a lottery system to ensure class sizes at the two schools are equal if not enough families volunteer for the transfer.

Stephen Jupe.“At this time we need parents to voluntarily request their student(s) to be transferred from Grant Watts Elementary to Warren Elementary,” Jupe wrote in the letter.

He added, “Once voluntary transfer requests have occurred, the District will decide if any other transfers are necessary. In the event that other transfers are required, a lottery will take place, and families will be notified of any change in student placement.”

Not all parents are pleased with what the district is doing to even out class sizes at the two elementary schools.

Scappoose parent Amber Atkins was one of many people to post her thoughts to the popular Facebook group “Concerned Citizens of Columbia County (revised).”

Atkins wrote, “We purchased our home 7 years ago. One of the reasons we chose the house is because it is one block from GW and [Otto] Petersen [Elementary School]. I will not be a happy mama if my 7 year old has to ride the bus for an hour to get to Warren when we can walk to GW in two minutes.”

Kellee Rigdon was also unhappy, writing, “I for one am not very pleased, and wasn’t happy to get the email requesting volunteers to move schools. If I wanted my kids to go to a different school I would move.”

Others on the Facebook page were more circumspect.

“This happens from time to time. It really worked out ok for my son who is now a freshman at Scappoose High School,” wrote Tina Oyler. “Warren was full and they gave us a choice to go to grant watts. It may have been they way they came across today but being able to flex students makes our small town work. I hope it works out for all of you as well as it did for us.”

Jupe told the Spotlight Tuesday that several families have already asked for the transfer to Warren. He said he is “hopeful” that the district will be able to achieve its balancing plans with volunteers only.

While he said he has heard from “a couple of parents who questioned this,” he remarked, “If we can do most of this without forcing anybody to move, really, it’s not going to affect them.”

Warren has historically had a smaller student population than Grant Watts. The school board added two teachers at Warren in the budget it adopted this spring for the coming school year, and the district hired a half-time principal this month for the school.

Warren was previously directed by lead teacher Jeff Wilebski, who left the school district at the end of last school year.

The school district’s target class size for Grant Watts and Warren is 22 to 23 students, Jupe said.

He explained that the school board is trying to reduce class sizes in the district.

“If we can keep class sizes low across the board ... we should be able to provide [students] with a really maximum education, so they hit grade 4 well proficient in reading and writing and really be able to be successful in the schools,” said Jupe.

Scappoose students in kindergarten through third grade attend Grant Watts or Warren. Fourth through sixth grade are served by Otto Petersen Elementary School, which is located adjacent to Grant Watts in southeast Scappoose.

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