Education — School will lose 3.5 employees as district shifts resources in order to reduce class sizes

In response to the Newberg School District’s decision to reduce class sizes at the elementary school level, and balance teacher planning time, Newberg High School administrators announced their plan to reduce staffing for the coming school year.

Principals explained that the plan will result in a loss of 3.5 full-time-equivalent (FTE) teaching staff at the high school, which will push the student-to-teacher ratio at NHS from 24:1 to 25.5:1.

With typical high school class ratios falling between 28 and 30 students to one teacher, superintendent Kym LeBlanc Esparza said during her budget message April 29 that other districts would still be envious of the new plan.

Middle school ratios will rise from 24.5:1 to 25:1, while Newberg’s elementary student-to-teacher ratios will be reduced from 26:1 to 25:1.

According to Yellow School Principal Stafford Boyd, who will become the district director of secondary learning and learning July 1, the challenge remains to graduate all students’ college or career ready.

“Our job is to continue to improve and provide students a high-quality, well-rounded educational experience that is engaging, rigorous and culturally relevant,” he said.

The reduced staffing has forced principals to carefully examine student course requests and priorities for graduation, eliminating the achievement gap; developing science, technology and math (STEM) programs and 21st century skills; and maintaining visual and performing arts.

Among the changes students and parents can expect in the fall is the elimination of freshmen inquiry and tutorial study hall classes, which will be offset by an increase in support classes for math, language arts and ELL students. Advisory programs in all small schools will remain unchanged.

While small school leadership classes will be eliminated, enrollment opportunities in Associated Student Body (ASB) leadership will increase.

The plan calls for some upper level elective courses in PE, visual arts, marketing/business, ag sciences, drafting and computer-aided design (CAD) to be combined, but at the same time, will increase the number of courses offering dual-credit and/or college credit.

Computer programming and electronics classes will be replaced with updated STEM course offerings, including Introduction to Engineering Design I, which Boyd said has drawn enough interest to fill two sections.

Based on the number of course requests, Spanish and business/marketing classes will be reduced.

Visual arts classes will also be reduced by two periods, but performing arts programs will not change.

Changes in how services are delivered to students in special education or on individual education plans will also be implemented at the high school and throughout the district next year. Numbers of personnel remain the same but educational assistant positions will be redistributed through district schools to ensure a better alignment of services. The level of specially-designed instruction will remain the same.

Counselors and small school staff members will work with students whose forecasting may be impacted by changes.

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