December 12, 2013 - School Closure Vote
The School Board voted to close Concord Elementary School at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Concord Elementary is a school that has served the community faithfully for many years and we are immensely proud of Concord School's many accomplishments and achievements.
Over the next few months the Concord staff and community will find ways to celebrate Concord’s rich history, and students and staff will prepare for moving to new schools for the 2014-2015 school year.
A Boundary Realignment Committee will meet to determine the new elementary school attendance boundaries in the Putnam area. This committee is comprised of parents from local elementary schools, community members and district staff. Information about the committee’s timelines and processes can be found online here: www.nclack.k12.or.us/
November 7, 2013 - Recommendation Letter from Superintendent
During the 2012-2013 school year, the North Clackamas School District’s Superintendent’s Budget Review Committee identified cost savings opportunities that included consolidating schools.
This committee and the district’s Budget Committee received significant input that supported consolidating schools along with other considerations. Fourteen community forums were held during which the district received feedback from more than 1,000 community members and district staff. The results of these surveys showed that our community favored five options for closing our budget gap, one of which was consolidating schools.
Many of you may be asking why we are discussing the closure of an elementary school as stories of improved school funding are heard throughout our district and state. Yes, state school funding is improving throughout the state and in our school district. Unfortunately, it is not improving at a rate fast enough to address all our current financial needs.
The North Clackamas School District has a very long climb from our financial abyss. As we begin this climb, we must do so while addressing at least four financial areas simultaneously:
1. We must work to increase our fund balance as we strive towards a five percent minimum level:
While we have made considerable improvement to our unreserved fund balance this year from dangerously low levels last year, we are not yet at the five percent minimum level. A five percent fund balance would be sufficient to:
· Protect the district from unnecessary borrowing in order to meet cash-flow needs;
· Provide prudent reserves to meet unexpected emergencies and protect against catastrophic events;
· Meet the uncertainties of state and federal funding;
· Maintain our current credit rating; and
· Help ensure the district operates as an ongoing entity and provide support for future financial stability.
2. We must work towards a full school year for our students and staff:
We are making strides in this area as well by adding back two furlough days this fall. Unfortunately, we are not operating at a full school year this year and for the fourth year in a row. Additional days provide meaningful instructional hours for each of our students under the careful guidance of our high quality teachers. Restoring the school district to a full school year for students and staff would add an additional $2.3 million to next year’s budget.
3. We must reduce class sizes across the district by restoring teaching positions:
Improving class sizes by restoring teachers poses the largest financial deficit to our school district. Since the 2009-10 school year, we have reduced our certified and administrative staffing by 25 percent. This is equivalent to more than 230 positions and is equal to more than $22 million in salaries. We saw in the class size presentation at tonight’s Board meeting how unacceptably high our class sizes have become. We know the benefits of smaller class sizes means more individual interaction between students and the teacher, more personalized feedback for students, and increased opportunities for student participation.
Restoring these staff positions, combined with restoring a full school year, makes our total financial deficit over $24 million.
4. And finally, we must plan for compensation and benefits for all employee groups:
Over the past three years, our staff has seen one salary adjustment. During this same time period, the district experienced a 25 percent reduction in staff, meaning the staff that remained saw a huge increase in workload. To make matters worse, all staff have seen a reduction in salary as the result of furlough days, which reduced their compensation by three to seven percent in each of the past four years.
Like the folks in the private sector, our hard working and dedicated staff are deserving of fair and competitive compensation. In addition, it is important we position our district to be able to attract the most highly qualified staff as possible. One of the ways you do this is with a competitive salary and benefits package.
It is for these four reasons we are facing the incredibly tough decision of having to close a neighborhood school. While yes, our financial picture is improving, the reality is we still face a financial deficit of more than $24 million. Given this reality, we must continue to look for savings and efficiencies in our system that will continue our road to financial stability and provide an effective education experience for each of our students.
We do not have the luxury in this financial crisis to maintain small schools. Always, but especially now, our community expects and demands that we be the most efficient we can be with the resources we have. Our greatest resource is our people and we must ensure that we are using our people in the most effective and efficient way possible.
This message was an excerpt from Superintendent Matt Utterback’s comments given to the Board on October 24. The entire text is available in the Documents section of this web site.