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West Linn-Wilsonville School Board looks ahead to budget cycle, work session

The West Linn-Wilsonville School Board did a lot of looking ahead during its regular meeting Monday, April 10. Aside from approving a consent agenda that included the hiring of new Meridian Creek Assistant Principal Edgar Solares Vega, the board didn't take any further action during Monday's meeting. But Superintendent Kathy Ludwig did shed some light on what enrollment numbers might look like at the new middle school next year.

Following the middle school boundary process that took place over the course of the fall and winter, middle school students in the district who reside within designated choice zones had until late March to decide where it was they'd prefer to enroll for the 2017-18 school year. Ludwig said that while the numbers are still 'soft' because families can still move in and out of the district before school starts Aug. 29, the district has a pretty good handle on what those enrollment numbers will look like at each middle school.

Ludwig said while the district has received all choice forms from students in choice zones, the district is still missing enrollment forms from some 30 middle school students with designated schools. Next fall Meridian Creek will start with an enrollment of approximately 320 students, while Inza R. Wood will decrease to 520, Athey Creek to 620 and Rosemont Ridge to 780.

"We're really pleased with where things are starting for us, particularly in terms of where Meridian Creek is starting for a base. We had hoped for at least over 200, but 320 … gives us a really good staff size as to where we land in terms of sixth grade, seventh grade and eighth grade levels being about equal numbers. Sixth grade has slightly more than seventh grade and eighth grade will be the smallest class. That gives (the district) information to start staffing and as they work with (Human Resources Director) Kathe Monroe and teachers around transfers, transfer requests, and beginning to put together the Meridian Creek staff."

Wood's enrollment is affected the most by Meridian Creek — Ludwig said the district is looking forward to removing portable classrooms from Wood — but the district is particularly pleased that enrollment at Rosemont Ridge projects to drop below 800.

Ludwig also looked ahead to the district's public budget information session Thursday, April 13 and the impending budget process that will last through May and into June. With an estimated $1.8 billion revenue shortfall anticipated in Salem, board members acknowledged that this year's budget cycle will be vital. Board member Betty Reynolds, who also serves as president of the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA), informed the West Linn-Wilsonville Board that OSBA is actively advocating for $8.4 billion of funding for K-12 schools; the estimated number that would allow school districts to avoid budget and staff cuts.

Board member Rob Fernandez, meanwhile, said the decisions the board makes in the next couple months will be pivotal for both the coming year and future budget cycles.

"We are in a unique position, our board is, to set the table for the next board having to deal with some really difficult situations," Fernandez said. "I don't think our community recognizes yet the gravity of what we're facing, what all public entities are facing, and while it's certainly not all gloom and doom, we need to be thoughtful and disciplined in our approach."

Ludwig said Thursday's meeting will be informational only, and will provide public feedback for the district's Budget Committee, which is slated to meet May 1, May 15 and possibly May 22 to draft a budget to bring to the board. Public comment will be allowed at all Budget Committee meetings, as well as at the budget hearing and adoption, which is anticipated for the June 5 school board meeting.

The information session will begin at 6 p.m. in the district board room at 22210 S.W. Stafford Road.

Contact West Linn Tidings reporter Andrew Kilstrom at 503-636-1281 ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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