In a perfect world, educators would have unlimited access to the resources they need to maximize student achievement.
In reality, schools must work diligently to prioritize goals and initiatives in such a way as to have the most impact on students in the most efficient manner.
Each year, the budget process is quite the undertaking. Roseburg Public Schools leaders began the task this month with a round-table discussion about budget priorities, what our community expects of their schools, where to focus our efforts and how to best distribute funding for the 2019-20 school year.
Our elementary, middle and high school principals agreed on many common themes: safety and security; student support services; student opportunities; social and emotional learning; the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff; facilities improvements; professional development; absenteeism prevention; additional staff; mental health resources; homelessness and poverty initiatives; drop-out prevention; and many more.
It’s a long list. The common thread in each of these themes is a desire to help students get started in their schooling on the right foot and to help students graduate with a plan for their future. This work requires us to take into consideration every level of education, from pre-K to high school.
We wish that every need our educators identify could receive full funding, but we recognize that we have an important responsibility as a district to make the most of the public dollars we have while doing right by our students.
Prioritizing is made even more challenging by the unknown — the district will be waiting over the next couple of months for the Oregon Legislature to determine funding levels for the next biennium (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021). We are hoping for increased funding and our Board of Directors at its Wednesday meeting passed a resolution calling for a higher level of public school funding in Oregon.
Regardless of decisions made in Salem, we believe that by beginning the planning process now, we will be better positioned to complete an effective budget for the coming school year. Our thinking is guided by our belief that every student should enjoy a sense of belonging at school, exercise some influence over their own educational plans and acquire adequate skills to be enormously successful.
Since returning to Roseburg Public Schools as Superintendent in October, I’ve been impressed with the staff’s strong and professional commitment to student achievement in this modern era.
Today’s schools are called on to prepare our kids for an ever-changing future and the work is challenging.
Our staff is passionate about helping our students succeed. This passion for educating all of our community’s children was on full display at our budget roundtable. We should all be very proud of the seriousness these professionals bring to the school building each day and to the budget process now underway.
The collaborative approach we used in this first roundtable allowed administrators to ensure every voice was heard and included. By coming together for a group conversation, we are focusing on building a sense of community among our schools.
We are in this together, as a district. And we will be seeking input from our community’s parents and partners in the coming weeks in a district-wide survey in which we’ll ask you what you most value and what you expect from your public schools.
This process will inform our School Board, which will also hold a work session on budget priorities in March. It will be used to inform our Budget Committee — comprised of seven board members and seven community members who will begin their work on April 10.
In the end, we will work to ensure that all of our priorities are supported in one way or another, perhaps not in full, but in a way that maximizes our resources and best serves our students.