Board to review plan for schools

Gazette-Times reporter

With the start of another year underway, Corvallis school officials are ready to turn their attention to the future of the district. A meeting tonight will provide school board members with a chance to review a draft of a district plan created by the managers and administrators.

In August, the board gave opinions about district goals and identified priorities in the coming years. Principals and leaders from the district office also contributed in creating the plan to drive and focus the work of school employees.

Superintendent Jim Ford said the district is trying to align work so that the most important things are accomplished, especially in times of budget reductions. Under each goal, there are strategies, but perhaps the best feature of the plan is that there are performance measures, he said.

Under the goal of learning for all, the proposed strategies include engaging students in meaningful and challenging learning; ensuring kids are known in their school community and improving instruction through staff development and evaluation.

The ideas generated to achieve this goal include creating an alternative education plan, finishing the implementation of a behavior plan district-wide, ensuring all children can read by the third grade, improving special education services, implementing professional growth plans and building a database to track student growth.

Ford said the idea was tossed around to track kids' individual progress, not just compare grade levels through state tests results, report cards and work samples.

"It would be more comprehensive," Ford said. "Something to assess work and life skills."

Learning for all could be measured by monitoring student achievement on tests, the number of learning opportunities, enrollment data, drop-out rates and staff development hours

School Board Chairwoman Cyrel Gable said an exchange between district leaders and the board has allowed the plan to take shape. She also said the board intended to use it as an evaluation tool, once its completed.

"By having this guiding plan, we know which things are consistent with what we want to be doing," Gable said. "It gives us an idea for how we look at terrible choices."

Other district goals include building a collaborative and innovative culture and aligning systems.

The board will also get an update on progress of the Corvallis High School design team, and is set to approve a tentative plan that would position a replacement building with the entrance facing Buchanan Avenue, and locate the structure near 16th Street. The board will also approve minor modifications to the long-range facility plan, updating information to reflect progress in planning a new high school and a new middle school.

District Business Manager Kathy Rodeman will brief the board on the latest information on the state budget shortfall and how it will impact Corvallis schools. The board will also vote on a resolution to endorse Ballot Measure 19, which would transfer $150 million from the state's lottery-funded education endowment fund to the state school fund for local schools.

Measure 19, which appears on the Sept. 17 ballot, also converts the endowment fund to a stability fund, which the legislature or governor could tap in funding emergencies. Corvallis stands to lose almost $1.9 million if the measure fails. The district would either have to cut 37.5 teacher positions, reduce the school year by 12 days or increase every class by 5 students to make up the difference.

Becky Waldrop covers youth and education for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 758-9510.

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