(archives of older messages)
April 9, 2017
Dear Roseway Heights Families,
In recent weeks there has been information in the media, and directly from the district, that schools throughout Portland are facing staffing cuts in order to work within the lower than expected state budget proposals. There has been communication from Interim Superintendent McKean about the reasons for the cuts, so I won’t go into it here. What I do want to share with you all is how these budget cuts will impact Roseway Heights and what actions and decisions we made in order to maintain the excellent education you have rightly come to expect of our school.
This coming year, Roseway Heights will be reduced from our current staffing by just over 5 FTE (FTE is Full Time Equivalent. One full time employee or two ½ time teachers make 1 FTE). The reduction is the result of three main factors. 1) Roseway is being corrected for being staffed for 707 students for this year, when in fact we only have 650. The difference of 50 students results in 2 FTE less for next year. Although this feels like a big cut, the district could have asked us to reduce our staff at the beginning of this year, but let us keep the “over” staffing we have. 2) Last year we were given additional FTE in order to support our growing Vietnamese Immersion program. The district remains committed to the Vietnamese program and is working to ensure the program grows and thrives, although with the additional grade (we will now go K-3) this represents a reduction. 3) The district changed a number of the formulas they use to create the amount of staff at each school. Although K-8s did not see an increase in the average student to teacher ratio, we did receive a lower amount of “equity” funding which is allocated based on the number of students who are “Historically Underserved,” and those that participate in our Free and Reduced Lunch programs. By changing the amount of FTE associated with those factors, we lost an additional .75 FTE.
In order to make decisions about cuts to staffing, and thus our program, the first document I must consult is the Core Programming Guide. This document gives schools the “rules” about staffing--and ensures we have allocated specials, electives as well as the academic program. In years past we have been staffed for PE twice a week for K-5, this coming year the expectation is once every other week. The same is true of Library--instead of every week for all students, the guide now sets the library at once every other week. The library allocation (a specific line item in our budget) has been cut from 1.0 to .5, which comes with the additional guidance that the library must remain open for only ½ of the week, instead of the current entire week. We have been given a specific .5 FTE to support our Middle School elective programming in the arts (because the Arts Tax teachers can only work with K-5 students) but that also represents a reduction because we currently staff both art and music for our middle school students. Finally, the counselor allocation was cut from 2 to 1.
After consulting the core guide, the next step is to use our CAP (Comprehensive Achievement Plan, or school improvement plan) to align our staffing with our stated priorities. The CAP is a document that is developed by a teacher based leadership team using data from a variety of sources (attendance, discipline referrals, reading and math assessments, grades, intervention practices, etc) to focus our work on the most effective practices that will help us reach our mission of ensuring success for all students . Our CAP is focused on supporting students in early literacy with interventions offered to all students who need it, and our school climate to support our students with social-emotional development instruction and intervention. With that in mind, we used our small amount of remaining FTE to keep .5 of our second counselor (resulting in 1.5 counseling, not 1.0) and retain one of our two .5 reading specialist positions.
Here are the projected configurations and supports we have for next year:
Kinder: 2 English, 2 Vietnamese
1st: 2 English, 1 Vietnamese
2nd: 2 English, 1 Vietnamese
3rd: 2 English, 1 Vietnamese
4th: 3 English
5th: 3 English
Specials: PE (1x week), Art (1x week), Music (1x week), Library (1x every other week)
Supports:Counselor (1.5), Reading Specialist (.5), Special Education (2.0+2.0 regional program), Assistant Principal, Educational Assistant (4x .5--to serve in the mornings when we focus on literacy), English Language Learner program (1.5 + .5 EA)
6th: 3 Sections
7th: 2 Sections
8th: 3 Sections
Electives (2 offered each day, not alternate days): PE, Health, Spanish, Technology, AVID, Music (Band and Choir) and additional offerings to be determined by our teaching team.
I will be sharing this information at the PTA general meeting on Wednesday April 12, at 6:30 in the library and will be answering questions people have about it. There is also a listening session sponsored by the district leadership on Tuesday April 11 at Madison High School from 6-9pm.
Please know that in times of cuts, there are no easy solutions, and every cut represents a person who is a member of our community. It is my role to think about our stated priorities, to focus on what is best for ALL students with a focus on those who require additional supports, and to provide an excellent education for every student who walks in our doors. I believe even with budget cuts, staffing reductions and other constraints we have the teachers, the support staff, the community, and the students to do exactly that. As you think about and discuss this with your family and friends, neighbors and community, please keep in mind that these cuts are impacting specific people in our school and I would ask you to be aware that conversations about programs can feel personal. Please allow the teachers and staff members to lead discussions about their future plans when and if they feel comfortable sharing with you or your students. During this time it is essential that we acknowledge the anxiety we feel and not lose sight of the students we are serving right now and for the next 3 months.
Principal, Roseway Heights K-8
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenges and controversy”
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.