Superintendent Maria Delapoer2015-16 Budget Message: Investing in Student Learning

Investing in student learning continues to be our focus in the Greater Albany School District. The 2014-2015 budget allowed us to move forward in impacting the quality of instruction by:

  • allowing more reasonable class sizes with a ratio that is almost as low as in 2008
  • providing instructional tools such as textbooks and technology
  • increasing support for students with counselors and administrative time
  • broadening the range of interventions and acceleration options for students
  • expanding extra-curricular offerings after school and electives during the day
  • adding more time for teachers to collaborate and receive needed professional development

In order to put This year’s improvements in place we will need to spend down some of our Fund Balance this fiscal year. This is not sustainable over many years so additions to this year’s budget are limited. The Legislature has established a State School Fund that is inadequate to fund Full-Day Kindergarten and maintain current program levels. Most available resources will be needed to pick up services and staff that have been possible through grant funds, such as the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), which end this year. These include some administrative duties, digital learning coordinator and technology teacher on special assignment (TOSA), the Oregon Department of Education mentoring program and classroom management professional development and support. The Advanced Diploma program appears to be in place for next year and over 200 students are planning on these funds to attend their first year of college at Linn Benton Community College.

Additions to the budget will allow for expanding the GED program at Albany Options School to meet the need in the district. Expelled students will have a longer day so that they do not fall behind and jeopardize their ability to graduate. In conjunction with new grant funds, the AVID program will be developed at West Albany High School and our four middle schools, and increased at South Albany High School. The Workforce Development efforts, in partnership with local industry, will focus on recruiting more students into the “pipeline” for training and future good paying jobs. Maybe most exciting is the plan to have each elementary school with dedicated specialist time in Music and PE, however, a few schools will continue with an instructional specialist instead, for another year. Elementary schools are also focusing on reading and math through two grants that provide training and data collection. We will participate in the Early Learning Hub work group to align Pre K programs with K-12 expectations.

As I mentioned, state school funding will be tight for the coming biennium. In addition, the legislature took the unusual tact of providing funding equally between the two years of the biennium. This artificially inflates the amount of money available in year one as there will be very little additional funding in the second year to address annual cost increases. In my proposed budget estimated expenditures equal anticipated revenues. What this means is that, if additional funds do not become available from the Legislature, necessary increases in the second year of the biennium will need to come from our Fund Balance.

On the horizon for next fall are recommendations from District Facilities Advisory Committee (DFAC) regarding upgrading and expanding our educational facilities and equipment. The reconstruction of the South Albany High School building that burned down will be completed next fall and will meet the current needs of the school and its programs. Both of these efforts have shown us once again that our community supports and values their schools and wants the best for students.

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