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BOE Votes Not to Close South Ocean, Oregon

Current proposed budget will see the elimination of eight teaching positions.

Three middle schools will remain in operation for the 2012-13 school year, as the Board of Education voted to keep South Ocean and Oregon middle schools open in a 5-1-1 vote Monday night at .

“The middle schools are not like a high school, you can't take the kids and put them all in one spot and put them in an environment that is very close to the high school,” said trustee Thomas Donofrio. “We have seven elementary schools for a reason, we have three middle schools for a reason.”

Trustees Donofrio, Anthony O'Brien, Donald Atkins, Joseph LoSchiavo and Anthony Russo all voted in support of keeping the schools open. Trustee Brett Houdek abstained and William LaVelle voted against.

The board began discussing the possibility of closing one or more schools , when a recent study conducted by Western Suffolk BOCES on the district's demographics and facilities showed that all three middle schools are operating at 50 percent capacity or lower, with those figures expected to drop even further through 2020. A possible plan to close just South Ocean Middle School was presented at a budget workshop .

Houdek and LaVelle have said in a and in budget workshops that they hoped money saved by closing two schools could be reinvested to prevent teacher layoffs and in educational programs.

Houdek told Patch after the meeting that despite the lack of school closures, he tasks the board to find a way to prevent the yearly loss of teaching positions in the district.

“The board needs to address that in this budget cycle,” Houdek said.

Donna Jones, the district's assistant superintendent of business, announced Monday that the proposed 2012-13 school budget does call for the elimination of eight teaching positions in the district, four of which will be through attrition. This adds to the 56 positions lost the previous year as a result of state's looming two-percent tax cap.

The Board of Education workshop brought out roughly 400 people packing out Saxton’s auditorium.

The next Board of Education Business meeting is scheduled for March 19 at . Public session is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Jon Thomas March 08, 2012 at 05:10 PM
So I am looking at the survey and think maybe other share my concern, how are we going to restore cuts. Schools should be in the education business. That can't happen cutting teachers. Weren't there two plans presented. Why not close just one school. Didn't that save a million dollars? Would that at least stop the current round of cuts?
Chris Wendt March 12, 2012 at 09:48 AM
Board members are not supposed to abstain unless they have a material conflict of interest in the matter at hand, meaning, they have a monetary interest in the outcome of the vote. I do not believe this was the case, here and that Trustee Brett Houdek failed to perform his duty as a board member by abstaining. It seems the board lacked the guts to stand up to the parental mob. You have three middle schools all operating at less than 50%, you have a tax cap levy, and a board that cannot pull the trigger on closing a totally unnecessary school because of angry parents? This reads like a sick joke, and I'll bet you will not like the 'punch line' when it is eventually delivered. School Staffing 101. Lesson One. When enrollment drops, teaching positions are reduced accordingly. This is called "Reduction in Force" or RIF. RIF can occur either through attrition or by layoffs.
Jon Thomas March 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Thanks you Mr. Wendt, it is a shame it takes someone from outside the district to see what is going on. You are dead on when you say: "It seems the board lacked the guts to stand up to the parental mob. You have three middle schools all operating at less than 50%, you have a tax cap levy, and a board that cannot pull the trigger on closing a totally unnecessary school because of angry parents?" I'm still waiting to see the district's plan on how we address this.
Jan March 28, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I think everyone is missing the point here!! My son goes to Oregon Middle School and how would he benefit from this. Closing 2 schools squeezing them all into 1 school that would be great just what I need my son sitting in a classroom with 50 other kids. Don't say that wont happen look at the high school over 3000 kids in one school is ridiculous!!!! I'm so glad I moved from the city to Medford for the schools and so glad I'm paying high taxes for all the nonsense that goes on out here.
Theresa giacchetto May 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM
You certainly do. I am a teacher in the district and I believe that William LaVelle and Brett Houdek are doing this to save money to bring many teachers back. Now that it is voted down, we still are cutting more teachers. We all need to remember that this is school and in the long run, a building will never exist without the teachers. I think everybody needs to step back and think that William LaVelle is a very intelligent attorney who has a mind vested in this school district, but many others have their minds vested in politics. Why is it that in last year's budget, there was a significant decrease in instruction, but a significant increase in administration. Again, this year, there will be eight teachers cut, but from what I have read, they will be hiring another assistant superintendent. We need to think about the days that teachers ran the schools and had a major influence on the schools today. A school without teachers will never survive. That means everyone that collects a paycheck will suffer as well. I believe these two gentlemen make a lot more sense than many. I agree with their decisions and commend them for sticking by their position amongst all the politics. Thank you to Mr. LaVelle and Mr. Houdek for all of your hard work. Theresa Giacchetto

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