FGHS, NAMS administrators made pitches to the Forest Grove School Board on Monday, Feb. 26.

Administrators at both Forest Grove High School and Neil Armstrong Middle School are hoping for a new class schedule for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

With shared goals of decreasing class sizes and offering all students more elective options, the principals proposed their solutions at the Forest Grove School District board meeting on Monday, Feb. 26.

Karen O'Neill, principal of Forest Grove High School, suggested the school go from its current seven-period day back to eight periods, which it had before 2014.

The 25 percent staff cut in 2011 caused the school to lose many electives, and in turn, that forced it to change from an eight-period day to seven, said O'Neill, who became principal in 2010.

Now, thanks to funding from Ballot Measure 98, which "required the Oregon Legislature to distribute at least $800 per high school student each year for establishing or expanding career and technical education programs, college-level educational opportunities, and dropout-prevention strategies," there is greater opportunity and more resources for expanding elective options at the school, O'Neill added.

O'Neill argued her proposal would effectively decrease class sizes by providing more options to students.

"Kids would love more elective classes," she said.

The school would still have alternating A and B days, but it would now have four classes offered each day instead of four one day and three another, O'Neill said.

The previous interim principal of Neil Armstrong, Osvaldo Garcia-Contreras, was selected as principal just this past week. Garcia-Contreras is also hoping to pursue a schedule change that would increase the number of classes in the school day.

Currently, Neil Armstrong has six-period days, but Garcia-Contreras hopes to have seven by the fall.

"By going to a seven-period day, we would be able to offer an elective to students currently not getting an elective," he wrote in his proposal.

Like O'Neill, the high school principal, Garcia-Contreras believes this would help decrease class size.

The average class size at Neil Armstrong is 35 students, said Garcia-Contreras, and health classes have an upwards of 45.

The proposals will go through several budget meetings to figure out what these changes would mean in terms of cost for the district, and voting on the matter will happen in May, said Kathy Bahnsen, secretary to the superintendent and board of directors.

The board also voted on an inter-district transfers policy for the 2018-19 school year, which states that families living outside the school district can apply to transfer to a Forest Grove school and grade level with open slots. If more applications are received than slots available, the transfers will be selected by lottery.

The board members discussed both the need to keep available slots open for potential students with all of Forest Grove and Cornelius' new development, while also keeping in mind their goal of decreasing class sizes.

With a 4-1 vote, the school board settled on ten open slots for Forest Grove High, two for Neil Armstrong, one for Joseph Gale Elementary School and one for Tom McCall Elementary School. Some of these numbers were much lower than principals of the schools had suggested, but a majority of board members felt keeping class sizes down was of the utmost importance.

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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