The following budget message was delivered when the budget was officially presented on May 17th:
Historically, the amount of funding available for public
schools for the 2012-2013 year is comparably the worst it has ever been. We are in the second year of a 5.7 billion
biennium budget. The reduction
represents funding levels we had six years ago in actual dollars. Needless to say the cost of PERS, insurance,
supplies, and materials has steadily climbed.
As a result, we will have less staff in every job classification (administrators,
teachers, and classified staff).
While we are not proud of funds available to us this year,
we are proud of how we have managed our resources, aggressively pursued grants,
and capitalized on every opportunity to make our dollars stretch further
including reducing the number of students leaving Lebanon for surrounding
communities. Within three years we have
restored confidence in Lebanon schools as evidenced by reversing the number of
students leaving Lebanon by over 90 students.
Our kindergarten class of 379 students is the largest class in the
Even more importantly, our heroic staff has put themselves
on the line day after day by taking furlough days and working with minimal to
no increases while their jobs have become more challenging due to larger class
sizes and increased expectations. They
are doing more with less.
It is our hope that the next biennium will reach funding
levels of over 6 Billion. If it does,
we will be able to make some strategic additions to help us achieve the
recommendations outlined in our 2020 Vision.
We are more committed than ever to continue our pursuit and reputation
of excellence. During these lean years,
the lessons we are learning through efficiency will pay dividends when
I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone
for their patience over the last few days before spring break with the school
closures and confusion that existed—especially on Thursday when late breaking
developments forced us to close LHS and Seven Oak at the last minute.
Due to the fact that most of the employees
scheduled to work on Wednesday worked either from home or came to school to
prepare for parent conferences and/or report cards that were soon due, and we
required all scheduled staff to report to work on Thursday, the district will
not be seeking to make up or furlough those two days. Some of our students (Seven Oak and LHS) did
miss two days of school, but state law does allow for up two school closure
emergencies without those days counting against the required hours.
Over the next few weeks, we will be working
hard to move as many full time jobs from the General Fund to grant funds in
order to save jobs and help us build a balanced budget. In addition to our Federal grants (IDEA,
Title IA, and Title IIA), we are also pursuing a state CLASS implementation
grant from ODE and a CTE grant from ODE.
Securing these grants would help us shift jobs out of the General Fund
as well. All of these efforts will
require some voluntary and involuntary transfers when they play out. We will work with everyone who is affected by
these moves as they develop and appreciate your patience and support during this
difficult budget season.
We also understand during the snow days that
some parents were scheduled for conferences and may not have been able to
attend the conference due to the weather.
These parents may request to meet with you during your office hours over
the next few weeks once the report cards go home. In addition, please make an extra effort to
reach out to parents whose students are not making adequate progress if you
were not able to connect with them during the scheduled conferences. Thanks for all you do to support our students
being successful. It is very much
Have a wonderful spring break, and I will see
you in April!
I wanted to let you know that our district is working with the
Lebanon Education Foundation to host a community-wide event on Saturday,
May 12th at Lebanon High School. We are very excited to host a variety
of events including a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, Ultimate Frisbee
Tournament on the turf field, 5 K relay, car show, and more. We are
hoping this will be a fun community day that many of our staff and
students participant in. All money raised from the event will go to the
Lebanon Education Foundation for classroom innovation grants and
supporting students in need. Staff will have an opportunity to
apply for classroom grants via electronic applications in August. We
are hopeful that we will be able to offer several $500 dollar grants to
support innovation and 21st century learning in our classrooms. If
you would like to know the schedule of events on May 12th or register,
please click on the link below. You can also register for the event
with Kathy at the district office. If you would like to help volunteer
for No Limits, please send me an e-mail, and I will let you know when
the planning team is meeting and how you can help.Link to Register:http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=tp94hvcab&oeidk=a07e5hrdqve93d7e4b2
I wanted to thank those of you who nominated me for Lebanon's Man of the
Year. I was totally taken by surprise at the event which just shows
how out of it I am or how good many of you (including my wife) are at
keeping secrets. Either interpretation is troubling for me. In all
seriousness, it was a tremendous honor to be recognized by our city, and
I consider the honor one we have all collectively earned by doing great
work day after day for our students and restoring the confidence of our
community in our schools.
We all know we still have a long way to go to ensure all of our students
are reaching their potential. Transforming our schools is hard,
grueling work. Thank for your commitment to that work and making a
difference every day. Every once in a while it is good to pause, look
how far we have come and gather the strength to keep moving up the
mountain of educational excellence. Thank you for being willing to make that journey with me.
School funding is Oregon is woefully inadequate and unstable. Last June when the legislature passed the
budget, they promised to release to the State School Fund 56 million dollars
(which is about $400,000 to LCSD) in February 2012. Well, the economy continued to be sluggish
throughout the fall and winter months.
As a result, when the legislature came back in February, they said they
couldn’t afford to release the 56 million, but they did do some restructuring
to health care, which meant they weren’t going to take additional funds from
us. Somehow, that whole course of events
got interpreted as “good news” for schools.
The district would like to thank everyone for their support
to take three furlough days this year (January 20, May 25, and June 8). The school board voted to approve the proposal
that was presented by both Associations at the school board meeting on March 1st. The
district understands that furloughing these three days is a big sacrifice and
will result in a painful pay reduction for all employees. It is also a sacrifice for students and families
who will lose instructional time.
The three furlough days will result in a savings of about
$270,000 for the district. This amount
is very helpful when it comes to filling a budget hole that currently stands at
1 to 2 million dollars. We are also seeking to save around $200,000 in
next year’s supply budgets (which will have an impact on funds available to schools
and departments). The amount we need to save is a moving target
because it is influenced by our Ending Funding Balance (how much money we carry
into next year) and enrollment (which is in constant flux). These numbers solidify as we approach June. The number and need for furlough days next
year will depend upon several additional factors including: retirements, contracts, the ability to move
current jobs into grants, budget committee & board input, and our constant
hunt for efficiency through restructuring.
As you are probably already aware, we are trying to build a
budget for the 2012-2013 school year with funding levels that have been flat
since 2006-2007. The Great Recession
of 2008 and slow recovery has placed a great deal of pressure on government
services across the country. When
costs we can’t control (PERS and Insurance, for instance) continue to rise
while funding remains flat, the end result is higher class sizes, less
services, less staff, and shorter school years—which frustrates all of us year
The budget committee will be having its first meeting on
Thursday, April 12th at 7pm at the district office. We will be covering all of these topics and
many more at this meeting. I welcome
your engagement and participation in the process, and I am so thankful be
associated with the fine employees of Lebanon Community Schools during this
trying budget time.
Instruction. Assessment. They are the big three of teaching and
learning. Obviously, I have spent a
great deal of time thinking about them all, how they interact, and how they
support each other. I believe that
effective teaching starts with curriculum.
Since I came on board in July 2009, we have been talking about The Work
we provide to students.
The Work is the curriculum, and there are a few
things we know about The Work. It should
be rigorous. It doesn’t come from in a
box. It is built from standards,
expressed in learning targets, and measured by formative assessments. One of my favorite quotes is by John
Lounsbury who said, “Curriculum is a three letter word: YOU.”
The curriculum you design should be challenging
and make students think in order to engage them in a deep way. It should also be relevant (meaningful) to
them. It should matter. Helping students see the relevancy in the
work we provide (starting with why) is what learning targets are all about, and
they help students to move toward intrinsic motivation—which we know is the key
to anyone reaching their full potential as a learner.
Bloom’s Revised taxonomy (2001) is probably our
best expression of what it means to create work that is at a higher level. In Bloom’s 2001 Revision, the activities at
the top of the taxonomy (analyzing, evaluating, and creating) are not
linear. They are the branches at the
top. The activities that make up the
trunk, (remembering, understanding, applying) are more linear. They are the stair steps that students must
climb in order to be able to analyze, evaluate, and create. All of them are important. All of them have their time and place.
It is my ongoing belief that authentic writing
is one of our most valuable tools for analyzing, evaluating, and creating—that
is why writing across the curriculum is such an emphasis for us. Whether a student is analyzing data in their
science lab journal, evaluating the actions of a historical figure, or explaining
how they created a new way of solving a complex math problem, writing is one of
the chief vehicles that we can use to “Teach to the Top” of the taxonomy, or
increase the level of task our students experience.
In my efforts to support learning in our
schools and our collective goal of designing and delivering high quality tasks,
I have set a goal for myself to spend one day a week in schools for the rest of
the year. This means you will see me a
little more frequently than usual and I will most likely walk through your
classroom at some point. In my visits I
will spend at least 100 minutes at a school just walking through, watching,
listening, learning, and providing feedback on what I observe. One of the tools I will be using to provide
feedback is “Teacher Talk,” a way of capturing how time is spent in the
classroom, and another tool I will be using is looking at level of task as
defined by Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. I
am hopeful these simple tools will be supportive in your effort as educators to
pursue excellence in curriculum design.
I hope through these non-evaluative visits, I
can be even more supportive of your heroic efforts with students. I know in these days of limited resources and
greater needs being able to support each other in a variety of no cost ways is
more and more important all the time.
See you in school!
“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and
boldness to challenge the status quo.” Seth
The world needs more artists.
As I reflect upon the rush of the past 4 months, I can say without
hesitation it has been exhilarating, exhausting, and exciting all at the same
time. There are so many changes
occurring in the landscape of public education.
Over three dozen education bills got passed last spring in some form or
another, but unfortunately, the biggest need of all—fixing our broken funding structure—was
not addressed. Despite a whole lot of
talk, two obvious things that everyone knows
and agrees must happen--PERS and kicker reform--didn’t happen. It is time to challenge the status quo. For real.
This spring in Lebanon we will be trying to build a budget
based upon the same funding level of six years ago—in spite of increased
enrollment and costs. In the early
1990s, public education was a priority in our state. We were a top ten state in terms of funding
and results. Flash forward twenty years,
and in 2012 we are bottom 10 state in terms of funding and below average in
results. Funding matters. Poverty is gripping Oregon in startling ways
with more and more people struggling just to survive. Despite the fact we know public education is
a revenue generator (producing jobs and preparing students for careers in every
community) the education portion of state funding has slipped from nearly 60%
to 51% during the past ten years. Our
de-investment in public education doesn’t make any sense on any level—especially
in light of a host new accountability measures that come our way every
year. During the past few legislative sessions,
those of us in schools could count on two things every time they got
together: more laws and less
We are right in the middle of gearing up for the first
senior class in the history of Oregon required to pass a state reading test to
receive their high school diploma, and while staff is rapidly changing how they
teach, and the classes we offer to meet these new rigorous standards, we are
struggling with students entering our schools and classrooms with greater needs
and seemingly less prepared than ever before.
Next year all students will need
to pass a writing assessment, the year after that will be math, and the year
after that will be the Common Core (more hard stuff). The message has been clear from the state: make better bricks, make more bricks, and get
your own straw.
In spite of these challenges, it is exciting to see some of
the ground we are taking here in Lebanon.
Our full day kindergarten program is giving students the head start they
deserve to begin their education career on the right track, and the graduating class
of 2011 earned on average over 15 college credits per graduate through a
variety of opportunities we provided.
Our Senior Project is second-to-none helping our students to own their
own learning and demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to be successful
at the next level. The dropout rate at LHS is the lowest it has ever
been---1.38%. We are making a difference
in the classroom. We are doing more with
less. Imagine what would be possible
with adequate funding.
There are a lot of words on paper from Salem about how
things will be different in the future. An
Oregon Education Investment Board has been created. Outcome based funding and achievement compacts
are being discussed. But for those of us
in the trenches doing more with less year after year, we really don’t care what
people talk about. We are going to need more than words, rules,
and slogans to help our state recover and every student reach their full potential.
We are going to need real dollars and a
seismic shift in how we fund and support schools. For the sake of our children, our economy,
and our future, I hope we can get it right.
One thing for sure, 2012 won’t
It is already the 14th of December…
As I reflect upon the rush of the past 4 months, I can say
without hesitation it has been exhilarating, exhausting, and exciting all at
the same time. There are so many
changes occurring in the landscape of public education. It is hard to keep up with them all, and I
find myself constantly bombarded by the “NEXT BIG THING” that will really make a difference. No sooner then we gear up for the first senior class in the
history of Oregon required to pass a state reading test to receive their
diploma, we struggle with students entering our schools and classrooms with
greater needs and seemingly less prepared than ever before. Oh yeah, and throw in 6 years of flat funding
and national angst about public education.
It is no wonder we are so tired!
I must say I have been impressed by your willingness to do
hard things—to hang in there when support and resources are lacking. Your ability to continue to do heroic work
with children day after day after day is amazing. I love the fact that in the midst of chaos,
confusion, and constant change our district is relentlessly focusing one thing
in the classroom---designing and delivering high quality lessons to students
that make them think, problem-solve, write, share, and create. This is THE WORK. Everything else is secondary, and it is
making a difference.
I spent yesterday interviewing seniors from several high
schools around the valley at LBCC. The
“mock interviews” are a graduation requirement for seniors. I can say without equivocation that our
seniors are better prepared than the students I met from other schools. Our Senior Project and all of the high level
activities associated with it is doing wonders to help our students be prepared
for college and career.
Once again, I want to publicly commend your efforts during
this trying time of year. A
well-deserved break is right around the corner, and I wish you a wonderful,
warm, and restful holiday. Take care of
yourself and take care of family and friends.
Relax. You are the
One of the education reform strategies the
state is strongly considering for the 11-12 school year is the creation of
Achievement Compacts in order for school districts to receive their
funding. I think this could be a good
idea if done right. An Achievement Compact is an agreement—a handshake—between districts
and the state. Each district will have
the opportunity yearly set measurable achievement and growth goals based upon
their data and the funding they receive.
The goal of each compact is continuous growth toward high performance on
a few of the most important indicators that we know will make the biggest
difference for our students while at the same time given districts freedom to
innovate on how they achieve those outcomes.
To measure our progress, we have currently
identified indicators at four crucial points in each child’s K-12 education:
Ready for school (Kg entry)
Learning to read (K-2)
Thinking critically (grades 3-8)
College readiness (grades 9-13).
We are currently measuring progress in these
areas through Easy CBM and OAKS assessments in reading, math, and writing. Though these measures aren’t perfect, they
are common, connected to state standards, and required for graduation from our
And though these assessments are what our
students and schools are measured by locally and globally, we also know that helping
students to think critically is job number one, and as we do that job well, we
believe our students will be better prepared to do well on these
assessments. Currently our best
measurement for critically thinking are opportunities our students have to
complete work samples in reading, writing, math, science, and speaking. For this reason, we are also tracking work
sample opportunities recorded in Mastery in Motion.
If you click on this link, you can see how
our students and we performed last year on these measures.
Thank you so much for your commitment to help
our students be successful today and into the future.
This past week ODE recently released their flawed annual
report card ratings. They have been
releasing these ratings for over a dozen years now, and the constantly moving
targets they present have caused more than a few of us in education to scratch
our heads. Over the years, we have seen
the standards move multiple times and the test change. The formula at one time gave bonus points for
improvement and included writing along with reading and math. Now students that exceed get more credit in
the formula, but students who are within one point of meeting the standard are
worth the same as students who are 20 points beneath it. Zero.
Lebanon High School again was rated “In Need of
Improvement,” the lowest rating a school can receive. This rating was given in spite of the fact
the school posted an 18% gain in reading and an 11% gain in math. However, because the formula is biased
against schools like ours that allow students to pursue their learning at the
community college level by providing a 5th and 6th year
of education, it is impossible for LHS to get anything other than the lowest
rating they offer—even if every one of our students at LHS aced the test.
This is the third year of the current version of the
formula. Not only do high schools get punished
in the formula for providing a more advanced expanded diploma, the formula also
places schools with populations of at-risk students at a severe
disadvantage. The current formula is
based on what is called the Achievement Index.
The A.I. is calculated by averaging all of the reading and math test
scores. However, all scores are not
treated the same. Students who are
labeled economically disadvantaged, SPED, ELL, or come from certain minority
groups have their scores counted multiple times in the formula. The end result of such treatment? Schools with more challenging populations are
placed at an unfair advantage when compared to more affluent school
populations. I think you can understand why these ratings aren’t worth
our time or energy anymore. We are
hoping the current discussion in the state of pursuing a Waiver to NCLB will be
an opportunity to fix the formula.
So if ODE’s report card is not a fair or accurate measure of
school success or progress, what can we use?
What if we could measure something that really mattered? Something that was worth holding our breath
for? In Lebanon, we think
Level of Task---the quality of work students are doing---is the most important
thing we can work on. We are in the process of training staff on how to
provide high quality work that promotes high levels of thinking, reading,
writing, and speaking in all of our classrooms.
We have over 70 teachers this year involved in a Portfolio Project where
they will collect and reflect on artifacts of their teaching and have this
digital collection reviewed by their peers.
This is work that matters and will have a big impact on the success of
It also matters that at each level our
students are prepared to be successful at the next level. In our lower grades, this means we strive to
help all of our students reach academic skill benchmarks in reading, math,
writing, science, and speaking through a variety of formative and summative
assessments. All of those benchmarks are
defined, and we report progress to parents on them regularly.
In the upper grades, this means
students are pursuing more challenging courses that culminate in the
opportunity to earn an honors diploma or receive college credits through College
Now, Advanced Placement, or Beyond LHS.
Last year Lebanon students earned over 5,000 college credits through
these programs—more than any other school in the state to my knowledge. If that means “In Need of Improvement,” so be
it. We are always looking to