Education — Officials asking ODE for another year to examine the best way to change schedules

Citing a lack of time to examine alternate options, Newberg Superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza announced last week that the district intends to apply for a yearlong waiver from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) before changing the class schedule at Newberg High School.

ODE Assistant Superintendent Rob Saxton announced in April that school that didn’t meet the required 130 hours of classroom time mandated in the state’s Division 22 standards and would have to be in compliance for the 2014-2015 school year.

Newberg, like many schools in the metro Portland area, operates on a block schedule and estimated in its annual Division 22 report that the high school was about 14 hours short of the threshold.

A committee was formed to examine the possible options for a new schedule in the 2014-2015 year, but found that doing so in such a short period of time would be detrimental.

“We haven’t been able to talk to parents,” LeBlanc-Esparza said. “We haven’t been able to talk to students. We haven’t been able to get input because they didn’t make that directive to all the school districts until April. Folks are already forecasted and at this point in time, it would be July or August before we could get a schedule put together and that’s very problematic. We can’t get everybody’s input in the process in the way in which we’re supposed to.”

LeBlanc-Esparza said at the Newberg School Board budget committee meeting April 29 that about 10 other districts in the state are also requesting a waiver and have until June 1 to formally apply.

According to district spokeswoman Claudia Stewart, LeBlanc-Esparza intends to bring a waiver proposal to the board for approval at its May 13 meeting.

The alternative would be forcing NHS administrators to implement a schedule that doesn’t fit because they didn’t have time to fully think it through.

“I don’t want to do that,” LeBlanc-Esparza said. “That’s not fair to kids. Unfortunately, we as a system over the years have had to live with that before when we’ve made decisions on scheduling and realized it’s not exactly the right fit that we wanted. There’s no reason to do that.”

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