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Beaverton School Board adopts 2014-15 budget, equity policy

Jeff Rose calls for four-point grading scale; student advisory group proposed


The Beaverton School District Board of Directors unanimously adopted a budget for the 2014-15 school year, approved an equity policy and heard about changes to student grading for K-12 students in the upcoming school year at its Monday night meeting.

The board quietly adopted the $392.5 million general fund budget the district's Budget Committee passed in an 11-1 vote on Tuesday, May 13. The amount includes $14.6 million in reserve funding.

The document fulfills community requests to restore technology assistant positions at the district’s four smallest elementary schools and adds 10 guidance counselors, still 2.5 full-time equivalent positions short of what counselors and community members requested.

That gap will be addressed, however, with $7.7 million in unanticipated state revenue. Superintendent Jeff Rose said it remains to be decided how the one-time allocation would be divided to reduce class sizes with more teachers, fulfill requests for counselors and enhance the district's English language learner staff.

"Most of these dollars are not sustainable," Rose warned. "It is one-time money. We obviously have a dilemma. We're focusing on (those) three areas."

The budget contains approximately $18 million from the local option levy voters passed last year to fund around 200 teachers. The amount includes increases to music and physical education instruction time. Students will have about two 45-minute music classes every week, with a comparable increase in physical education instruction time.

The budget adds assistant principals to 11 schools, with funding designated to boost teacher training and materials. Technology support staff also will increase, along with custodian and office support staff hours.

Equitable allocation

The board also adopted an equity policy, which several people spoke in favor of, during the visitor comment section of Monday's meeting.

The policy is based on the philosophy that "every student can learn at the highest levels when all staff provide equitable access and opportunity for learning, and hold every student to high expectations." The policy clarifies that implementing equity to maximize the academic achievement of every child requires "allocating resources equitably, not equally."

Among its goals, the policy promises to:

• Provide students with equitable access to a high-quality curriculum, effective teachers and principals, support, facilities and sufficient support services, "even when this means differentiating resource allocation;"

• Recruit, hire and retain high-quality personnel that reflect student demographics at all organizational levels;

• Support personnel at all organizational levels to engage in culturally responsive practices and delivery of service;

• Incorporate the voice and perspectives of students, families and communities that reflect student demographics into decisions that benefit student success; and

• Ensure the district's Strategic Plan embraces the principle of equity ... and outlines measurable outcomes to attain the goal of preparing students for college and careers.

Ridgewood Elementary School Principal Scot Stockwell was one of several who spoke about inequality and the need for the policy's adoption.

"I hope through this policy we can formalize (the application of equity) across the district," he said, noting more than 100 Ridgewood students' families live at or below the federal poverty line. "I strongly believe everything we do has to be through the lens of equity. I'm truly proud to be part of a district that considers this type of policy."

"Fair is not always equal," said Westview High Assistant Principal Andrew Cronk said. "As an assistant principal, equity factors into my daily decision making."

Other action

In other business, the School Board:

• Heard Superintendent Jeff Rose's recommendation to restructure the district's grading and reporting policy based on a series of options a committee presented to him on May 23. For the 2014-15 school year, he advocated a 1 to 4 scoring guide strategy, with overall marks averaged for each learning target for each course or subject. Teachers, he emphasized, would retain the right to use professional judgment to convert achievement to grades provided goals are communicated to students and parents at the beginning of each course.

• Briefly evaluated Rose's performance, praising him for his skills in leadership, communications, collaboration and community outreach as well as his integrity. The full evaluation will be available on the district's website at beaverton.k12.or.us.

• Discussed the creation of a student advisory committee to meet throughout the year and provide feedback to the board, a member of which would serve as an adviser/liaison.

• Praised the "Nothing But Treble" girls' choir at Westview High School after the choir received a $500 check for taking second place in the Rose City Sing-Off on May 3 in Southeast Portland. The choir performed a rousing version of "Let It Burn" for the board and audience.