Scappoose resident and property developer Brian Rosenthal submitted a letter critical of the Scappoose School District's open enrollment policy that was published in the March 10 Spotlight (see "What is the Scappoose School District board doing?" A4). The criticism focused on the district's policy of allowing out-of-district students to permanently transfer into the district, even though school officials have routinely stated that classroom space for students is increasingly cramped. New construction within the district promises even more student numbers, which has given rise to speculation the district would be pursuing a property tax bond campaign to fund future capital improvement and expansion projects.
In response to Rosenthal's letter, Scappoose School District Superintendent Stephen Jupe submitted a list of "talking points" regarding enrollment and planning for the district. They are as follows:
¦ The Scappoose School District is currently working on a Long Range Facility Plan (LRP). Although a LRP is required prior to starting a bond campaign, this is not currently a bond campaign. We are simply paying attention to our assets in order to keep our house in order.
¦ Although overcrowding might be a reason to plan for a bond, our LRP from 2008 anticipated that, at this time, we would be looking at the older facilities and planning to renovate or replace them as they become less serviceable for our students.
¦ The Oregon state government does not fund capital projects like school buildings, nor does it adequately provide funds for running costs. Very few of our initiatives to improve sustainable educational progress attract long-term funding. Further, to these challenges most mandates requiring compliance are unfunded. Since our funding for everyday costs is calculated based on our student enrollment, if we did not maintain our student numbers, resources available to Scappoose School District would mean higher class sizes, fewer materials, poorer technology, fewer support staff and shorter school-years for Scappoose students.
¦ The data regarding our demographics, the current capacity and student enrollment in our buildings, the state of repair and lifespan left in our buildings and the educational adequacy of our buildings are still under review. Similarly, the size and timeline for our community's potential population growth is impossible to predict accurately. We hope to have these numbers better defined shortly, but in the meantime we still have to maintain adequate running cost resources for the students under our care right now.
¦ We are a successful district that is well respected for its work with all students. Although many families have put their trust in our district, the numbers are not excessive. As of today roughly 110 out of 2,400 of our students are "open enrollment" or "Inter-District Transfer" students, which amounts to less than 5 percent of our students being non-residents.
¦ We are proud of our district, our staff, our community and our success. Were we to neglect our duty to our current students and parents, by allowing funding decimation to deplete our promising initiatives, we would be negligent in our service and duty to the community, and be unfaithful to our mission as educators.