As we come to the end of the school year and reflect on all the events and activities of 2018-19, I want to acknowledge the teachers and staff that work with our students everyday and our students that do their best to learn everyday. It is what happens in our classrooms, schools and community that supports our students’ growth and truly makes the South Lane School District an exceptional, caring and inclusive district.
I’d like to provide an update on some events and activities:
Extended School Year- The District extended the school year by three days after losing six days of instruction and learning opportunities for students due to the extraordinary winter weather. Next year (2019-20) our approved school calendar will include the possibility of adding up to three days if we have another weather-related event that closes schools.
School Funding- The Budget Committee approved the District’s Proposed Budget for 2019-20 on May 13th. The committee includes Board and community members. The Board of Directors will vote to officially approve the SLSD 2019-20 Budget on June 3rd. The District has had a number of challenges this year (as in the past) allocating and investing our limited funds in the effort to adequately support our district’s instruction, programs and services. We received some hopeful and good news recently. The Oregon State Senate passed HB 3427 – Student Success Act. This is an incredible investment for the future of early learning and K-12 education. Immediately, the Fund for Student Success provides $200 million in additional State School Fund (SSF) support that increases the SSF to $9.0 billion (our 2019-20 proposed budget is based on the $9.0 billion). The additional funding will allow the district to maintain its current level of services and programs, although some grant-supported programs have lost funding.
When fully phased in during the 2021-23 biennium, the HB 3427’s tax proposal will net $2 billion+ in new revenue per biennium; $1 billion will be appropriated to an equity-focused Student Investment Account, allocated directly to school districts for student social-emotional health and safety, well-rounded educational opportunities, smaller class sizes, and more learning time.
Latham Elementary School– In January, the Board of Directors made a difficult decision to close Latham Elementary School at the end of the school year. The district staff has worked with the Latham community to plan events to celebrate the school and all of the students, staff and parents who have supported and attended Latham Elementary School through the generations. We have also worked with families and staff members to ensure a positive and supportive transition to their new school assignments.
The Latham Elementary Community Celebration is scheduled for May 31stfrom 5pm to 7pm. The community is invited to tour the school from 5pm to 6pm followed by a celebration in the gym with guest speakers including Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing, a former student of Latham.
School Bond and Summer Projects – We’ve had a busy year of Bond activities, including opening the new Harrison Elementary School and the renovated Early Learning Center, renovations to the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center, safety and security upgrades to all buildings, and extensive deferred maintenance projects. This summer we continue the work on the Aquatic Center (projected opening in September), vestibule renovation and seismic upgrades at Lincoln Middle School, and on-going maintenance projects across the district, including roofing for Bohemia and a new greenhouse at Al Kennedy High School.
Teaching and Learning – A highlight for this year has been the continued implementation of the Licensed Evaluation Model. One of the keys to its successful implementation has been the professional development provided throughout the year. A group of teachers and administrators designed and led 5 trainings that helped define the expectations in the new model, and provided examples of effective teaching practices. In addition, dozens of teachers have attended Lane County Teaching and Learning Academy, which is a professional development series that aligns with our evaluation model.
Best Wishes – Congratulations to the graduates of Cottage Grove High School, Al Kennedy High School, Childs Way Charter School, and the Academy for Character Education! We are proud of you and your accomplishments, and the exciting future that is ahead of you. We also say goodbye to a number of staff members who are retiring or moving on – thank you for your commitment to our students and community.
Larry Sullivan, PhD