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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.

Dennis Barone March 07, 2012 at 12:28 AM
No one should lose their job but some changes have to be made...in these economic times "the good of the many out weigh the good of the one or the few." I hope we find the money to keep them.
Jon Thomas March 07, 2012 at 01:31 AM
So how is the district planning to address the cuts? Don't you need teachers in order to teach?
Judy Pepenella March 07, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I am a bit lost why the article states "This adds to the 56 positions lost the previous year as a result of state's looming two-percent tax cap." Please provide documentation as to what you are referring to? Last year if any positions were lost they had nothing to do with the tax cap. The district has to find ways to cut positions that will NOT affect the children. Maybe look at the administrative positions and/or freeze all teachers salaries (yes, including step raises) for a year to help through this very difficult time? If being a teacher is still a calling and a want and desire to help children grow and learn, then hold off on the raises for a year and help the kids learn. You keep your jobs and the children learn. If you become a teacher to just for the guaranteed raises, benefits or to become an administrator....well you are in the wrong profession. I firmly believe those that can do, those that teach do much more ....
Martin Cantor March 07, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Hi there..this is Marty Cantor..Jon is right..you need teachers to teach..that's why I developed a townwide school consolidation plan that would keep local schools, local principals in charge, more accountability, more teachers..in effect better education and lower costs..savings would result from elimination of all the duplicative layers of administration and non-teaching services that would be shared..for further details to to my web site... www.martincantor.com and hit the publication link..the white paper is on the list...good luck..best Marty Cantor, CPA, Ed.D
Mickey Visco March 07, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Here are TWO things that should now happen! In the next elections (when the terms are up)..Houdek (ABSTAINED?????..how about being a leader and vote one way or the other and GET OFF THE FENCE!!!!)...and LaValle MUST be voted out!!! This is a plan and simple thing that must be accomplished....They are obviously not involved with how the parents feel, in this community, regarding education of their children!.. VOTE THEM OUT!
Jon Fenrir March 07, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Hmmm? ... Three schools being kept open that are running at 50% ... Teachers being let go due to budget cuts ... School taxes are so high to help pay for the system ... Does any of this make sense?
rich p March 07, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Mickey, i think Houdek abstained because he was trying to make a point. Last year there were 50 something layoffs. This year there plans to be 8. He sees a diminishing teacher population and wants it to end . What will the gap be next year. 4 million dollars and 8 to 16 more teachers ? I think the community was given a bait and switch. No one in their right mind after looking at the budget presentation would go for the outlandish items brought up . People learning in cafeteria's right before the 9:30 am lunches. Auditoriums being used for chorus and band. I am suprised they just did not send a message that the trailers were comming to offset the space issue. The real issue was teachers are being laid off and somethng has to be done about it. It was an excercise to make the community aware of this. I know why he voted for the closing he brought the idea up . Houdek second it that is why most likely why he abstained. He saw the light and did not start a peer pressure vote for a third yes to close.
Tess March 07, 2012 at 08:39 PM
The schools are not truly running at 50% - visit any of the schools and you'll see that the space is being used to capacity. There aren't empty classrooms. Closing the schools is not the answer. Though it might have a short-term effect on the budget, it would negatively affect already hurting assessed values of homes in our community hence a decrease in property taxes collected for the school district. More community members need to get involved (i.e. think-tank) to look at options and review the budget line by line to see where things can be tightened up further.
Janet Murphy March 08, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Judy - salaries cannot be frozen - steps cannot be frozen - due to something called the triborough amendment to the taylor law. it's a state legislative issue. unfortunate, but true.
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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