A Call to ActionPosted by Site Master on 9/13/2019
“A Call to Action”
As I write this month’s blog, I think about all the excitement for another school year observed throughout the district this past week. From the ribbon-cutting celebrations at Templeton, Byrom, Mary Woodward, and Durham elementary schools, to the amazing energy of staff welcoming returning students and families across the district. Throughout the district I saw our TTSD community and the many students who had parents, grandparents and caring adults in their lives make their student’s first day an awesome one. I also observed many students who did not have that caring adult but were welcomed with an even greater level of excitement and warmth by caring staff. The late educator Rita Pierson noted, “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” That is the power of public education! Society daily spills over into our classrooms every day because public education is an integral part of society. When we respond from a place of care for each student, regardless of their life circumstances, we affirm the life-changing power of public education!
Once again, we have a historic opportunity to be a statewide exemplar of collective community, coming together to determine how we will invest TTSD’s portion of the $2 billion state investment to address two critical educational issues: meeting students’ mental and behavioral health needs; increasing academic achievement and reducing academic gaps for all, especially students of color; emerging bilingual students; students navigating poverty, homelessness and foster care.
Your voice is vitally important to guiding our district’s plan. Please respond to the district survey HERE of your willingness to participate in fall and early winter planning sessions. Our conversations will begin by reflecting on the three district priorities: 1) Developing community and culturally responsive teaching and leadership skills that result in equitable outcomes for each student and in staff that feel supported and affirmed for their work; 2) Developing strong social-emotional learning networks of care for both students and staff; and 3) Developing district human capital as a catalyst for student learning by recruiting, supporting and retaining a diversified work. With you help, we will decide how to allocate funding into the four Student Success Act categories: class size reduction; social-emotional learning; expansion of whole child initiatives; extension of the school day and/or school year. The timeline to develop the Student Investment Plan is short and the work intense, but the investment of these funds is a game-changer for our students and families, staff and ultimately our community.
One of my favorite quotes is by Marian Wright Edelman, President of Children’s Defense Fund. “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.“ It is an exciting time it is for our district, community, and state as collectively as we bring to life Ms. Wright Edelman’s words through the Student Success Act community engagement process. Thank you for your participation and continued care for our students, families, staff, and community at large.
Current Legislative SessionPosted by Site Master on 4/15/2019
I’m writing today to share important information regarding the current legislative session focused on school funding, how the district is engaging in this critical work and how you, too, can join us in these efforts.
On Thursday, April 4, the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) released their framework for investment of $2B in K-12 education per biennium in House Bill 2019 (HB2019). This framework outlines three funding priorities directing the $2B investment:
- 50% for a School Improvement Fund. SIF would be distributed to school districts based on the current funding formula with a double weight for poverty. SIF funds may be spent in one or more of the four “buckets”: Social Emotional Learning (SEL); Increased Instructional Time; Class Size; and/or Whole Child Instruction. Based on feedback we are gathering from our community and staff, we know that proactive, as well as restorative SEL services, are a priority for our district as a whole. I have provided testimony to both the JCSS as well the TTSD Board that increasing mental health supports to the classroom are a priority for me as your superintendent.
- 30% for the Student Success Fund. Major highlights include: fully funding CTE/Measure 98; funding for universal school meals; doubling high cost disability funding; and funding for multiple equity-focused initiatives such as the African American and Black Student Success plan, Latino Student Success and Native American Student Success plans.
- 20% for expansion of Early Learning programs, including: fully funding Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Ed; Expansion of Head Start, Preschool Promise; and targeted investments in culturally specific early learning programs and Relief Nurseries.
- Additionally, districts may receive an additional $100-200 M to be applied to the Current Service Level (CSL)/State School Fund from the JCSS. This would provide between $8.97 to $9.07B for CSL, of which TTSD receives approximately 2% of the allocation.
The JCSS also outlined spending accountability measures with which we are already familiar:
· 4-year graduation rates;
· Ninth grade on track;
· Third-grade reading level achievement;
· Attendance and,
· The possibility of local measures determined by the district
Members of the TTSD community have been tireless in their proactive advocacy work with Washington County legislators as well as testifying to the House and Senate Education Committees and the JCSS Subcommittee on Transparency and Accountability. Joining me in advocating for clear mechanisms for investment, accountability policy and legislation in Salem and with lawmakers include School Board Vice Chair Maureen Wolf, Chief Financial Officer David Moore, and Controller Elizabeth Michels, Assistant Superintendent Karen Twain, Tigard High School Principal Andy Van Fleet, and Trauma-Informed Specialist Alfonso Romero.
Amendments to HB 2019 were completed on Tuesday, April 9. Thursday, April 11 the JCSS took over three hours of testimony representing voices from across the state in support of this legislation. The accompanying revenue reform package, as presented, will raise the estimated $2B and will solely be allocated to K-12. Following the hearing, the bill was renumbered and is now HB 3427. The bill is expected to reach the House floor for a vote the week of April 29 and is expected to pass. It will then move to the Senate with the goal of moving to the Governor’s desk by the end of the first full week of May. That said, it is expected there will be community advocacy groups that will seek to overturn revenue reform legislation with a special election in January 2020. Continuing to share the great work we do in TTSD running up to this election will be more important than ever.
What does this mean for our current work in developing our district’s budget? On April 2, we completed the Community Budget Work Group process where community members, school staff, parents and students convened to provide input on the 2019-20 budget. Presentations, materials, and notes from these sessions are available on our district website under the “About Us” heading on the first page. On the drop-down menu, click on “Strategic Financial Plan”. On the left-hand side of this webpage you will see 2018-19 Community Work Groups link.
CFO David Moore and I will be visiting every school in April and May to share state and TTSD budget updates as well as to gather staff input regarding priorities and answer questions. Please see your building administrator for information regarding your school’s date and time. Please also note if you have specific budget questions, such as why we hold reserve funds and how those funds are allocated, CFO Moore is available via email or phone to answer any and all questions you may have.
Additionally, I continue my community outreach work to our partners such as PTO/PSO leadership, Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, as well as convening evening community meetings to share the state of the district including our budget process, use of state resources, updates on our current Bond work and to gather larger community input.
In February of this year, I provided our Board with an update to my performance goals, which are focused on closing our equity of student academic outcomes gap. Beginning 2019-20 I have committed to supporting our schools through revenue identified in HB 3427 in achieving targets of 5 % academic growth/year for all students and 8% academic growth for our underserved students of color and diverse languages. My leadership team and I are committed to the transparency of information and process as we work to meet these critical growth targets.
Your questions, concerns, and input are vital to ensuring we are allocating resources in an equitable and efficacious manner to achieve student outcome goals. As always, please feel free to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Additionally, the following Cabinet members are available to provide additional information and support as useful to you:
1. Director of Finance, David Moore: Current budget, budget development, State School Fund. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Director of Community Relations, Traci Rose: Community and Government Relations (including tools for state and federal advocacy), Media Coordination (Local and National News outlets), School and District Communications (Parent/community communications, emergency communications, website) She may be reached at email@example.com
We are at a critical juncture for our schools. Now is the time to act and make your voice heard. HB 3427 would bring greater fairness to the state’s tax system while raising additional revenue for schools. It would invest exclusively in pre-K through high school in a targeted way that ensures accountability of resources while protecting the current base. This is potentially a transformative moment for education and our legislature must act now to pass this legislation.
Please take a few minutes of your time to send an email to your legislators and urge them to adequately fund public education.
Go to https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts Where you will find a simple way to look up the email addresses for both your Senate and House members.
I ask that you please CC: firstname.lastname@example.org so we can support your efforts.
Tell your story! Tell your legislators, both House and Senate representatives, what your dream is for public education, for your children, grandchildren and the children of Oregon. We’ve all seen the impact of reductions, but we need to collectively focus on what we want as we look to grow public education in Oregon. Keep your email simple and focus on key messages:
- Fund education adequately! Support the proposal from the Joint Committee for Student Success (House Bill 3427) to create a $2 billion investment in our children.
- Talk about your dream of what our education system should be and can be when we make true investments.
- Your belief that your children’s success, Oregon’s success, requires quality schools and that the status quo is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
- Give an example of the situation in your school.
- Talk about the need for smaller classes, increased learning time, and/or greater supports for students.
- Ask them to show the leadership you elected them for and to solve this problem and fund schools.
Thank you in advance for your advocacy! Only through our concerted action, in partnership with districts around the state, will we be able to make a difference for our kids. Take time now to act!