No Sugar Coating
It’s difficult for me to tell you that Bethel School District again faces a significant budget shortfall for the coming school year. We have faced financial shortfalls the previous four years, and the shortfall for next school year will mean further reduction in staff and programs.
In the first year of the recession Bethel’s budget shortfall was $1.1 million. In 2009-10 it was $7.4 million. Last year it was $5.1 million. This year it was $6.2 million.
The budget numbers look even worse for next school year. The state school fund estimate remains low, federal funding is also decreasing, and the reserve funds we have been turning to in these tough times are depleted.
Our operating costs continue to rise due the state’s retirement system and increased energy and fuel costs. In the coming year we face a deficit ranging from $4 million to $9 million.
Across-the-board all our employees have stepped-in by reducing salary and benefits costs over the last three years. Bethel employees are considering a possible fourth consecutive year of concessions, give-backs that have included forgoing cost-of-living wage increases, salary increases for seniority and experience, furlough days that impact student learning as well as employee paychecks, and more.
We’re working in a collaborative and open environment to agree on a new employee contract, trying our best to do what is best for Bethel’s children and fair for Bethel’s dedicated employees and taxpayers.
If you have questions, thoughts, or ideas about Bethel’s Budget, please go to: http://www.bethel.k12.or.us/cgill/school-finance-faq/. There you can connect directly with me and share your ideas.
Far East Friends
Just weeks after hosting nearly 70 Chinese students and staff at Shasta, three Shasta staff members spent spring break in Beijing.
Teachers Frieda Brown and Jill Robinson-Wolgamott joined Principal Ginny Weil for a jam-packed trip to Beijing, paying their own way, of course.
They taught English classes at Shasta’s two sister schools, shared Positive Behavior lessons, took part in round table discussions, and lamented over familiar issues like how to motivate students.
The Chinese students were in class from 7:30-5:00 during the week, and holiday school closures were made up with classes held on weekends.
Chinese teachers will be coming to Shasta next year as the exchange continues.
Drive For Education
They were shooting a TV commercial at Meadow View School, using volunteer students during a no-school day.
It’ll promote the new Toyota Drive For Education.
The Northwest Toyota Dealers Association has entered into a sponsorship agreement with Bethel and Eugene 4j School Districts. They’ll provide Bethel with $4,000 a month during the school year, which will be used to help update classroom technology such as document cameras and powerpoint projectors.
The idea came from leaders at Kendall Toyota who were aware of local schools’ financial struggles and wanted to try some creative ways to help. Watch for the commercial on TV and you’ll learn more about the new sponsorship program.
How His Garden Grows
There’s nothing like weeks of rain to force a delay in outdoor work. Nevertheless, the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Garden is still under construction in the senior courtyard at Willamette High School.
A lot of work went into removing the old sidewalk and excavating much of the topsoil.
But a beautiful new curved concrete pathway has been poured, thanks to the donated expertise of concrete master Roger Kennedy. Knife River and Gemini Pump also helped make the pathway a reality.
Next on the list is the setting of pavers, installation of benches, hauling in topsoil, and the planting of bushes, shrubs and grass.
The garden will be a memorial to Chris Kilcullen, the Eugene Police officer and Willamette grad who was killed in the line of duty last year. It is being funded through community donations.
Singing Their Praises
There’s a tradition to uphold, and Shasta students did their part.
The Shasta Middle School Session Jazz Choir took first place at the Clackamas Community College Vocal Jazz Festival in Portland.
The Shasta singers competed against the Northwest’s top middle and junior high vocal jazz ensembles.
There were individual honors, as well. Shasta students Ashley Serna, Adam Pendell and Cam Whitehead earned Solo Awards, as the tradition of musical excellence at Shasta continues.
Having A Heart
Cascade 7th graders have an appointment with doctors at the McKenzie-Willamette Heart Center.
Amber Jackson’s students will spend an afternoon with the cardiovascular team for a special experience that’ll include hands-on education by the Heart Center staff and a visit to the cardiovascular operating room.
This unique educational opportunity was earned by the Cascade science class students who submitted the winning video entry into MWMC’s Heart Day competition.
A panel of doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, and non-medical members of the community judged the entrants and determined that Jackson’s class should receive the behind-the-scenes medical experience.
The Heart Day will be an opportunity the students won’t soon forget.
Except for a slight accent, you wouldn’t know they are special guests thousands of miles from home. 16 students and two teachers from Germany are spending a couple weeks in Bethel.
They’re attending classes at Willamette and squeezing in tourist trips to the coast, Portland, Multnomah Falls, the UO and Saturday Market.
Bethel host families are giving the students a temporary place to call home and providing the German students more opportunities to use their English, which is already very good.
The German exchanges have been an annual event thanks to Willamette’s German teacher Kathleen Petty. She also plans yearly summer trips to Bavaria for WHS students.
Not many saw this coming. Days before spring break brought breaking branches around all Bethel schools, bending under the weight of that freak snowstorm.
Bethel’s maintenance crews counted 25 trees damaged or destroyed, with the worst of it happening at Clear Lake, Irving, Shasta and Willamette.
A Flowering Plum at Irving plum toppled over, roots and all.
It took three full days of work and numerous truckloads to clear the debris. Spring in Eugene…go figure.
LMJ At WHS
He’s about to be drafted into the NFL and become very wealthy, but former Oregon running back LaMichael James seemed like one of the guys during a special visit to Willamette High School.
LMJ was there to donate $5,000 worth of athletic equipment to the school from SKLZ, whose products he now endorses.
The UO star answered questions from students talked about education and its central importance in students’ lives, while four TV crews, the Register Guard and some ardent fans looked on.
LaMike also accepted a gift of a Wolverine Nation shirt, which he proudly wore.
The Transition Begins
Bethel’s 8th Grade Orientation brought kids and parents to Willamette High School, their academic home for the next four years.
They registered for next fall’s classes and heard a consistent message: the staff is there to help students be successful, and parents need to be part of that team.
Kids were encouraged to find what interests them, discover what they’re passionate about, get involved, and not be shy about trying new things.
High school can be – and often is – the best four years of a young person’s life. For Bethel’s current 8th graders, the opportunities are numerous at The Big School.
A top-10 finish, some new friends who are real pros, and even more knowledge about the world.
Lowden Hansen gained all of that by taking part in the annual Geographic Bee. As Meadow View’s Geo Bee winner, Lowden took a test and qualified for the state competition.
The 8th grader placed 10th out of 100 students at the state finals, the highest finish among Lane County kids.
Lowden was tutored for the state Geo Bee by new friends Dave Imus and Lynn Ash. They heard of him qualifying for state and wanted to help Lowden prepare.
Imus is a local award-winning map maker, who also presented Lowden with a signed copy of one of his highly prized maps.
Fresh off their stellar performance at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, the Willamette High School Topnotchers choir put on a show in downtown Eugene.
The Topnotchers were the featured performers a the Hult Center SHO (Support Hult-Center Operations) lunch showcase concert.
They performed music from their recent shows in Idaho and Albany for an appreciative audience of downtown workers, students, preschoolers, retirees and other community members.
The SHOcase concerts are a once-a-month special program of the Hult that take place in the lobby for the community to appreciate.
Props For Pink
8th grader Robin Nagy thinks a lot of his teacher, Allan Pinkerton. Now there’s an award that proves it.
Pinkerton, or Pink as he’s known at Cascade Middle School, was named a local winner of the Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teacher contest. That’s because Nagy wrote an essay that shared how his life has been influenced by Pink.
It was news to Pink, who was surprised at the school with a special certificate. He was also presented some classic books for his classroom, while Nagy was also honored for his essay.
Pink’s nomination will now be forwarded to the Barnes & Noble regional contest where more prizes await. For the moment it was an honor just to be nominated, especially by a student.
For The Babies
Months of work culminated with the naming of a new Mr. Wolverine, but the biggest news was the gift. Mr. Wolverine contestants raised nearly $40,000 for Children’s Miracle Network. That’s $10,000 more than their goal and the greatest amount in the event’s 19 year history.
By the time Cameron Lister was announced as the 2012 Mr. Wolverine, he and the 11 other senior boys and their pageant coordinators had scoured the community in search of donations.
The students took part in about a dozen fundraisers, ranging from an Applebee’s pancake breakfast to a dodgeball game, Booster Bingo, and numerous events at local restaurants.
10% of the money raised will come back to Willamette in the form of a scholarship for a deserving student going into health field.