Boundary Review Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are you reviewing school boundaries?
A: Recent construction resulting from the 2016 school bond has expanded capacity at multiple Gresham-Barlow Schools. The construction of new classrooms combined with the planned closing of West Gresham Elementary School in June of 2020 means school boundary shifts are necessary.
Q: What led to the decision to close West Gresham Elementary School?
A: The Bond Measure Planning Committee (BMPC), a group of dedicated community members comprised of parents, students, educators, business leaders, and District administrative staff, felt that this elementary school has faithfully served generations of students but is no longer able to function as a safe and relevant learning facility. The building has reached the end of its useful lifespan as a school and the site is not adequate to support an elementary school of appropriate size or layout.
The BMPC unanimously agreed that it should be repurposed and only minimal funds should be allocated for necessary safety improvements until vacated (internally locking classroom door hardware and required integrated fire alarm intercom system).
Q: When do the boundaries take effect? Will there be the possibility of “grandfathering” for some students?
A: The new attendance boundaries will likely take effect in September 2020, but the School Board must formally adopt the transition plan and timelines for new attendance boundaries. A transition timeline will be recommended by the Administration after any boundary adjustments are recommended by the Committee. The Committee is not charged with establishing a timetable for potential changes.
Q: Will growth and development be considered in the plan? What data will be used?
A: The district, with the consultants at FLO Analytics, collected and compiled data from various sources to determine residence-based enrollment projections. This includes historical and current student enrollment grade progression trends, population and census records, birth rates, land use laws, county and city planning and permitting of new housing developments, existing enrollment and facility capacities, etc. for 5 and 10 year growth expectations.
Q: Will transportation time and walking distance considered in this plan?
A: Yes. The committee will consider existing walking paths and infrastructure, and the district’s transportation director is serving as a technical advisor to the committee, weighing in on any impacts to bus routes.
Q: When will the final decision be made public?
A: Winter 2019-20. The Committee will take input from the first open house on October 8 and make adjustments as needed before bringing a second draft proposal to the community again on November 5. Any final adjustments will be made after November 5 by the Committee and a subsequent recommendation will be provided to the Superintendent. The Superintendent will make a proposal to the board for a final decision in December based on these recommendations.
Q: How will staffing decisions be made and will new staff be added for particular programs so that both schools have equal programs?
A: In general, staff are assigned to where the students are. Staff decisions are made in alignment with the collective bargaining agreements, the staffing budgets for the district as a whole based on the Oregon legislature’s budget, and school-based program needs.
Q: How do the boundary changes affect class size?
A: Class size is a factor of the state budget (“State School Fund”).
Q: Will there be any changes to the proposal viewed at the first open house?
A: The committee will review all feedback provided at the open house and in the online form. This will inform any possible revisions that would be presented at the November 5 open house.
Q: How was the committee selected?
A: The Committee consists of parents, principals and district administrators. Parent members were nominated by their principals. The Committee was designed to balance perspectives from various schools.
Q: Why was there a phone survey and who did it go out to?
A: FLO Analytics had Critical Data, a survey firm, contact households in the Gresham-Barlow School District in the spring of 2019. The survey firm completed 350 one-on-one executive-style telephone interviews in order to get statistically significant and proportionally representative community feedback from parents/guardians across the district. Households interviewed included:
- 112 parents/guardians of middle school students
- 238 parents/guardians of elementary school students
These conversations informed the guiding principles and the committee’s decision making process by elevating our communities’ values. Specifically, Gresham-Barlow School District parents care most about:
- Creating and maintaining neighborhood schools
- Small class sizes
- Same middle school path
- Not crossing busy roads/streets
Q: How does academic programming and student achievement compare from school to school in the Gresham-Barlow School District?
A: Educators across our district receive the same professional development and work with the same specialists and support systems, such as English Language Development, and Special Education.
Elementary - All of our elementary schools use the same curriculum materials for math, literacy, science and PE/Health. They all provide: a 90-minute reading block with extra reading intervention when necessary; at least 60 minutes of math instruction; and the same special offerings, including PE, music, technology and library time.
Middle - Our middle schools use the same curriculum materials for all core subjects. They also have comparable elective offerings in Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math (STREAM), PE, and music. Our school’s STREAM programs are centered on student interests.
High School - Each of our high schools have unique differences: small school model, early college, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced Placement. Current college and career pathways are being developed and updated.
More information about our schools and education programs is available on school report cards published by the Oregon Department of Education.
Q: Do parents have the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes?
A: YES -- There will be two community open houses for parents to review proposals and share feedback. The first open house is on October 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at North Gresham Elementary and the second open house is on November 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at North Gresham Elementary. Your collective knowledge of the communities our district encompasses will help us come to the best possible solution to a very tough challenge.