April 12, 2017
To the Medford School District 549c Budget Committee:
I am pleased to present my budget message for the 2017-18 school year. I am honored to serve you and the community of Medford in my third year as the Superintendent of the Medford School District. I am convinced that the Medford School District is built on the solid foundations of the past, is currently responding well to the current trends in society and education, and is poised to be a leader in educational practice, innovation, and results for students in the state of Oregon and the nation.
I would like to express my appreciation to the members of the Medford School District Board of Education and the members of the Medford School District Budget Committee for their service, support, thoughtful analysis, dialogue and consideration of this proposed budget.
In this document, I am presenting a balanced budget for your consideration. Prior to presenting the details of the proposed budget, I will outline what the District has implemented and accomplished over the past three years to improve results for students. The subsequent priorities outlined in this budget are a continuation of a comprehensive plan that was set in motion upon my arrival in 2014.
I have outlined this plan in each of my previous budget messages and we remain committed to this blueprint for the coming year. The general strategies are:
-Increase quality student-teacher contact time
-Implement Career Pathways
-Expand dual and articulated credit offerings
-Improve education effectiveness and efficiency
We believe the recent improvements in student achievement and outcomes within the Medford School District are directly attributed to the hard work of Medford’s educators and support staff and the implementation of these strategies. To measure the District’s effectiveness and to ensure that we remain on a positive trajectory, we consider three specific metrics as key indicators to know if our plan is working:
-Four-year graduation rate
-Smarter Balanced Assessment scores
-Daily attendance rate
Graduation Rate: The District’s graduation rate increased ten (10) percentage points from 2014 to 2015 and then rose another two (2) percentage points from 2015 to 2016 to a rate of 77.15%. This was accomplished first by ensuring that at least 70% of our high school teachers were teaching at least six (6) periods a day, which effectively reduced class sizes in our high schools and increased instructional options for all students. Second, by tracking every student’s acquisition of course credits from their first day of high school to their last day of high school to ensure that each student is on track to graduate on time. Initial analysis of this data showed us many high school students who did not graduate in four years had fallen behind during their freshmen year. Using our current credit acquisition tracking system, students who now fall behind at any time in their high school career are provided with personalized interventions that include tutoring, intensive academic interventions, access to opportunities for credit recovery including online options, and summer school. The District simultaneously set in motion the development and expansion of focused Career Pathways to ensure that every student finds his/her place in our schools based on each student’s interests. We believe that students are most successful when they affiliate with a chosen pathway, where they make connections, find meaning, and ultimately create understanding in their daily school lives. We want all students to be in environments where they have a common mission and are connected with like-minded students, are surrounded by caring adults, and participate in co-curricular activities that they look forward to after school, on weekends and during breaks. We believe the Career Pathways strategy is a long-term strategy that will result graduation rate gains that will push the graduation beyond the 80% threshold established by the board.
Assessment Results: We believe regular assessments are an important way to measure student progress as well as helping students prepare for assessments they will face as they pursue advanced education and career opportunities. By placing emphasis on state and national assessments, we have seen appreciable growth in the number of students participating in the assessments, as well as individual student progress on the assessments. On the Smarter Balanced Assessments, in the area of English Language Arts (ELA), the District experienced a nearly five (5) percentage point gain this past year, exceeding the state average. In Mathematics, the District experienced a gain this year of two and a half (2.5) percentage points and closed to within one (1) percentage point of the state average. In Science, the District continues to excel by gaining nearly two (2) percentage points this year while exceeding the Oregon State average by eight (8) percentage points above the state average.
Student Attendance: Monitoring student attendance trends assist the District to better assess the culture of student engagement in the learning process. Higher attendance and reduced attrition rates signal that students are finding relevance and meaningful experiences and are present and more engaged in the learning process. We attribute improvement in attendance and retention to enhanced communications to the community regarding our improved results, expanded programs at all levels (e.g., full day kindergarten, middle school engineering, greater variety of course offerings and activities for students, expanded Advanced Placement courses) and a sense of caring for each and every student.
Specific Strategies for the 2017-18 School Year
Guaranteed Curriculum: We continue to develop consistency in the curriculum and instructional practice across the District. Much work has been accomplished recently to keep the District curriculum current, consistent, and relevant, as well as to provide adequate technology for student learning. While currently building on the 2016-17 English Language Arts curriculum adoption, we plan to make significant system wide investments in the Math and Science curriculum over the next two years, beginning with a K-12 Math curriculum adoption in the 2017-18 school year. Furthermore, District leadership is working with staff to create consistent learning targets, common assessments and data collection and sharing systems across grade levels, content areas, and courses throughout the District.
Class Sizes: The District remains committed to maintaining lower class sizes across all schools, even with reduced fiscal resources. This budget does not include a reduction in classroom teaching staff overall, but does assume an increase in instructional periods for secondary staff given the current staffing models.
Career Pathways: The District remains committed to building its pathways for all high school students in the areas of: Academic Pathways, Artistic Pathways, Career and Technical Education Pathways and in Pre-Professional Pathways. This will require strategic investment in reallocating current teachers at the high school level to continue expanding our current offerings.
Technology in the Classroom: The District will maintain its emphasis on providing students with technology rich environments by purchasing additional Chromebooks that will move us closer to having a Chromebook in the hands of each student.
Removing Barriers: The District will continue to pursue initiatives to reduce barriers for our neediest students. Examples are: full day kindergarten, expanded mental health services, funding of $0.2M for supplies, fees and field trips for economically disadvantaged students, expanded nursing services, District subsidized after school program for six elementary schools, reduced extra-curricular fees, increased access to technology (moving toward a one to one model for student devices), Bulldogs to Raiders program for Latino students, which is now being expanded, Hornets to Raiders, increased opportunities for ELL (e.g., expanded Migrant Education) and SPED students (e.g., unified sports), improved access to Advanced Placement and other dual credit opportunities, and providing the ACT test for all students.
Funding Outlook and a Balanced Budget
This proposed budget includes a conservative revenue estimate based on what we currently know about state school funding. Both the major revenue and expense changes for 2017-18 are shown in the General Fund – Fund Balance Projection on page 11. Upon publication of this document, the Oregon State Legislature has not provided an approved budget allocation for school districts. For this proposed budget, our District selected a lower revenue projection from the range of potential funding levels provided to us by the legislative office through the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). The legislative office communicated to expect funding based on a range of $7.8 billion to $8.1 billion in statewide school funding for the 2017-19 biennium, plus potential additional funding to cover Measure 98. ODE has provided only one funding model so far for District budgeting purposes and that model assumes the $7.8 billion funding level for K-12. While the $7.8 billion funding level is a 5.7% increase biennium over biennium, it is only a 2.0% increase year over year for 2017-18. If K-12 funding comes in higher than expected, we have a plan in place to increase reserves and spending next year (through the budget amendment process) in a manner that first prioritizes financial sustainability and achieving results for students while also providing improved learning and work environments. I will discuss the potential impact of Measure 98 funding later in this message.
Our cost to maintain current existing programs and staff continue to increase due to well-documented increases in employer Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) contributions as well as projected increases in medical plan costs, contractual employee pay for step raises, a 1.0% cost of living allowance (COLA), and other inflationary cost drivers. To balance the budget, we have made selective cuts in our budget, including the reduction of 7.28 full time equivalent (FTE) staff positions, assumed a minimal increase in student enrollment for the coming year and the inclusion of half of the PERS reserve that was previously set aside by the School Board (which is only sustainable for one biennium). This proposed budget minimally maintains the 5% fund balance minimum set forth by board policy. If additional funding is adopted above the $7.8 billion level, the first proposed action will be to increase the reserve fund balance and to fund the PERS reserve account for future liabilities.
Measure 98: The Measure 98 tax referendum was passed by Oregon voters in the November 2016 election. This measure potentially creates a separate pool of money to spend on specific programs in high schools (i.e., Career and Technical Education, College and Career Readiness, Dropout Prevention). We believe this funding, if realized, will allow us to begin to research and build the infrastructure to build an online school, providing opportunities to help both students who are falling behind and students achieving at the highest levels. As required by voter action, we have developed a plan outline that can be seen on page 116. First year funding for Measure 98 (2017-18) has been projected from zero funding in the first year to as much as full funding at $800 per high school student. For this budget, we have assumed 75% funding next year ($600/high school student), which equates to $2.36 million. Based on current information, we have assumed all Measure 98 programs would be incremental to enhance existing programs and to develop new programs. We have a plan to implement these initiatives quickly, at a scalable level, depending on the actual funding level provided. The District does not plan to hire any personnel or purchase resources for these programs until we understand the complete funding outlook for Measure 98 for the 2017-18 school year.
Looking to the Near Future
In prior budget messages, I mentioned the eventual need for additional community support. Our District implemented a plan to get to an 80% graduation rate and has demonstrated the ability to approach that goal within our expected timeline of 2017. The next ten (10) percentage points to get to a 90% four year graduation rate will require a greater commitment by the District as well as the community. A Local Option Levy, if approved, would provide additional local school funding for our schools that would be strictly used to expand program offerings for students. If the Board of Directors approves, the District would likely go to the voters for approval in the fall of 2018. This local revenue will help propel us from an 80% graduation rate to a rate approaching the 90% level. If a Local Option Levy is approved, at the elementary level, the District could move forward with continuing to lower classes, fully fund the mandated increase in physical education instructional minutes, and offer free after school programs for disadvantaged students. At the middle school level, the District could expand the pathways concepts in the arts, the fields of engineering, health care, pre-law, education, and offer pre-advanced placement courses. At the high school level, the District could pursue the concept of building a technical high school offering programs in the career and technical education fields as well as continue to enhance offerings in all of the high school pathways. A four-year graduation rate of 90% is an ambitious goal and will require innovative programming, futuristic thinking and subsequent budgetary support to accomplish.
Our student enrollment has continued to grow, partly due to renewed parent confidence in our schools and partly due to population growth in the region. A recently commissioned demographic study indicates our student enrollment will continue to grow, albeit at a slightly lower rate than was indicated in a previous projection. Currently, we are utilizing more classrooms due to the hiring of additional teachers in order to create and maintain lower elementary school class sizes. Our existing facilities are in great shape and well managed and we continue to seek ways to maximize classroom space within our current infrastructure. We anticipate the need for an additional new school facility, likely either an elementary school or a middle school, within the next three to five years. We have demonstrated excellent stewardship of our general obligation bonds by restructuring them recently to create long-term savings for property owners in our District. It is early in the planning process, but we have begun to consider what our infrastructure needs will be in order to provide quality education services for the families of Medford.
Brian T. Shumate, Ph.D.
March 22, 2017
Medford School District Community:
I am pleased to present to you the district’s Vision 2020 Strategic Plan. This plan is the result of months of collaborative work by district staff, community members, and families. The journey to complete this process began last summer when district leadership incorporated the Board of Education’s goals, the District Improvement Plan, and commonly held beliefs around student affiliation and connections to their peers, coursework and schools. Vision 2020 represents the high expectations and beliefs we have in our students as we strive to become a Premiere school district in Oregon and was created to provide a vision for the future and an overarching road map outlining where we want to go in the next four years. The vision, mission, values, and goals were vetted in multiple forums and formats and I am proud of the meaning behind each of these words as we continue on a path of continuous improvement and a belief in every one of our students.
I am extremely grateful for your participation in this plan. While ambitious, it is what our students, families and community deserves. I encourage you to read it and discuss it with your colleagues and stakeholder groups.
I would like to thank the following staff members for their time and effort in imagining, creating, re-creating, and editing this document:
November 14, 2016
Dear Medford School District Staff and Families,
In the wake of an election marked by intense emotions, it is important that our schools and community come together to model the qualities we value. We are committed to fostering unity, respect, safety, and hope for the future for all students and staff. Our schools are places where ALL students are welcome and valued, places where each student feels a sense of belonging. On Wednesday and Thursday of last week some students felt unsafe, bullied, or harassed. Bullying, harassment, and intimidation will never be accepted in our schools and community. As with all cases of bullying and harassment, educators and students immediately respond to such incidents as they occur. We encourage students and families to contact their teachers or principals with any concerns.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends these strategies to support our youth in navigating this post-election period. You may read the full article at the link below.
One vital role for schools is to educate students to participate in a democracy. To that end, we encourage teachers to convene respectful classroom discussions so students can express their opinions, learn from diverse viewpoints, and mediate differences through civil discussions. Whether in schools or at home, we hope you will join us in modelling acceptance and kindness for our students.
Dr. Brian Shumate Michelle Zundel
Superintendent Chief Academic Officer
August 10, 2016
Dear Medford School District Colleagues:
Welcome back to the 2016-17 school year! As you know, the first day of school will be Tuesday, September 6. It will be here before we know it! After serving two years as your superintendent, I am more excited than ever about the terrific things that are happening in our district and about the future
of the Medford School District. We have great staff, great traditions, great families and kids, great programs, great facilities and great community support. We possess a heart for the students, spirit of innovation, professional expertise, a sound work ethic and a dedication for the work. The Medford School District is truly poised to become the “Premier School District in Oregon.” It will take all of us to make that happen!
I first want to thank each and every one of you for your outstanding efforts over the past school year and this summer. I witness daily your commitment to the well-being and development of our students. This spring, I observed many staff members who motivated students to do their very best by finishing the school year strong and pushing our seniors toward graduation. I appreciate the many staff members working with students in summer programs designed to propel, enhance and remediate. I also applaud the many support staff who work diligently to prepare schools for the coming year so that the educational process can begin immediately. Thanks to you all!
In the past year, due to your hard work and commitment, we have made excellent progress as a district. Our student results are improving and we have improved internal systems in both the educational and business functions of the district.
For the coming year, we:
While these systems improvements are vitally important to enhancing the delivery of education services, I will continue to challenge all staff to look at the needs of each student. It is my vision that all students find their ‘place’ in our district where they experience connections, meaning and understanding in their daily school lives. The Medford School District should literally have ‘A Place for Every Kid.’ We must have a district that is coherent and aligned, yet have enough flexibility to create a personalized learning environment to meet each student’s needs. I believe collectively we have the expertise, heart and drive to make those things happen.
I am extremely excited about the coming school year and look forward to working with each of you to continue on our trajectory to become the “Premier School District in Oregon!”
I continue to consider it an honor to serve you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions.
Brian T. Shumate, Ph.D.
June 28, 2016
Medford School District Staff, Families and Community Members:
As another school year closes, I want to take a moment to thank you for your dedication to our students and school communities. School districts cannot thrive without the continuous and focused commitment of our staff, families, and surrounding community. I truly believe your efforts and support are making a great difference in the success and well-being of our students. From our dedicated teachers and support staff, to our community volunteers, to members of our parent teacher organizations, you are all integral partners in helping our students progress toward graduation.
On Saturday June 11th, hundreds of students from South Medford High, North Medford High and Central Medford High participated in graduation ceremonies and received high school diplomas. Our students have worked tirelessly, with the leadership and guidance of our teachers and staff, to reach this milestone. While receiving a high school diploma is a great accomplishment, it is not the end of a journey, but is a beginning of what lies ahead in the lives of our students. I believe our graduates are leaving well-equipped to be successful in their future academic and professional lives.
One of our primary missions in the Medford School District is to create a ‘Place for Every Kid.’ Whether it be band, art, robotics, engineering, technology, math, science, natural resources, outdoor education or culinary arts, we are continuously working to be a place where students want to be and can find affiliation, connections, meaning and understanding in their daily school lives. We will continue to pursue those lofty goals so that all of our students find their ‘place’ in our schools!
Thank you for all that you do and I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing summer. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.
Brian Shumate, Ph.D.
May 3, 2016
Dear Medford School District Teachers:
In this week of expressing thanks to our teachers, I want to truly honor you for all that you do for the young people in our community. As we aspire for the Medford School District to be a major portion of the fabric of Medford, I believe that teachers are the fabric of our District. No one touches more lives on any given day than the collective group of outstanding teachers who give of themselves each day for the betterment of our students. I am reminded of this quote by William A. Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” I am inspired by you every day and truly appreciate and thank you!
The link below says it all!
April 14, 2016
Dear Medford School District Community:
The Medford School Board approved the school calendar for the 2016-17 school year. The process to create the calendar included a committee of 14 teachers and administrators that met three times over the past six weeks. Based on discussions and feedback from the committee and others, I proposed several changes in this year’s calendar.
Inservice week has not changed and the first day of school is still after Labor Day weekend. The board meeting dates are not listed yet. They will be added prior to the start of school after the board retreat in August.
Thank you for your continued support,
March 1, 2016
Medford School District Staff and Community:
As we enter the budget season, I want to take this opportunity to provide you with timely information regarding our current funding and spending outlook and the budget process. Maintaining a sustainable and balanced budget is critical to our organization as a whole and our ultimate goal of maximizing achievement and opportunities for all of our students.
On February 7th, the Board adopted the budget calendar for the fiscal year 2016-17. The budget committee will begin meeting in April and will meet regularly until the Board adopts a budget no later than June 30th. A public hearing will be held on May 23rd. This year, we are also hosting a town hall meeting on March 7th to provide information, respond to questions and gather input. Details are posted on our website at http://www.medford.k12.or.us/Page/2818.
It’s important to note that in order to build a balanced budget, we have to make several budget assumptions which may change between now and the beginning of the school year. The following are factors to consider:
It is vital that we present a balanced budget as we move toward the 2016-17 school year. Currently, our projection is that we will need to reduce approximately 2.5% or $3 million dollars in spending in the coming year. We are working strategically with staff, principals, district leadership and our Board to find the least disruptive solutions to balance our budget. It is our desire to minimize the impact on the classroom and services that directly impact students. It is important that I emphasize we are considering every possibility as we face these very important decisions. If you would like to learn more or to give us feedback, please do not hesitate to talk to your school’s principal, department administrator or you can contact the district office at 541-842-5002.
We will keep you updated as this process continues this spring. Thank you for all you do for our students.
Brian Shumate, Ph.D.
Feb. 2, 2016
Dear Parents and Community Members:
I am proud to announce that the Medford School District graduation rate increased by 9.7% from the 2013-14 school year to the 2014-15 school year. Our new rate is 74.95% which is now ahead of the state average. This is awesome news and is a testament to the great work of the teachers, counselors, principals and support staff at all levels in getting these kids across the stage. It is also a testament to your work at home and within organizations throughout the community that help support our students.
The district has had programs and efforts in place for a number of years contributing to the gain. We’ve improved programs for our English Language Learner (ELL) students, special education students and economically disadvantaged students. We’ve improved our interventions to keep students on track and increased our use of data to help us reach kids where they are and design programs they need. We are instituting long-term systemic changes such as full-day kindergarten and high school pathways. The latter is a new program that encourages students to take a four-course sequence in an area of their interest that will keep students engaged and connected. We hope these initiatives will pay off in the future.
However, there is no magic formula to improve graduation rates. We must have a culture that we teach all kids, no matter what their ability levels or circumstances, and that we prescribe educational programs to meet their individual needs and move each of them toward graduation. It really happens one kid at a time!
Now that we have passed the state average in graduation rate, let’s move ahead of state averages on Smarter Balanced Reading and Math!
Thank you for your support. It takes a community to do what we do for the kids of Southern Oregon.
Brian Shumate, Superintendent
Sept. 24, 2015
Dear Parents and Community Members:
As I begin my second year as Superintendent of the Medford School District, I am more excited than ever about the possibilities and potential that are here. While Medford has a strong tradition as a school district, we still have much work to do. I have challenged our staff to ensure that we have 'A Place for Every Kid' which means that our schools should be designed in such a way that every student finds his/her place to find connections, meaning and understanding with their daily school experience, with their teachers, and with their peers. Every student should be affiliated and known for his/her strengths, aptitudes and interests so that the entire school experience is meaningful and has relevance to each student. I have also challenged all staff members to strive for the Medford School District to be 'The Premier School District in the State of Oregon!' This will require a concerted effort on behalf of all staff, students, families and community partners to improve its academic programs and offerings, its co-curricular opportunities, its community and civic involvement and its student results and outcomes. And lastly, our district has transformed the district logo, brand and mantra that now states 'Medford School District - LIVE. LEARN. LEAD' which emphasizes that the district plays a vital part of the fabric of the community of Medford, Oregon and has a responsibility to ensure that Medford remains a great place to Live, a great place to Learn, and a great place to train our Leaders of tomorrow!
To accomplish these lofty goals, we have set forth several strategic initiatives and investments for the coming year:
We will also strive to achieve curricular coherence, create a common assessment system by grade/course and by content area, improve our data collection and data analysis systems, and focus on improved teacher collaboration through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
The Medford School District focused on continuous improvement to ensure that our students get an outstanding education and we are excited about the future!
Brian Shumate, Superintendent