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Author Topic: The state Revoking district funding and eliminating the STEM school  (Read 12853 times)
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« on: February 03, 2015, 11:35:25 PM »

Below is a letter to our superintendent Randy Trani from Oregon Department of Education. This letter states we are losing our annual small school funding and the STEM's state ID to operate as a separate school. We are losing this funding because in order to qualify you must have no more than 350 kids in your high school. Corbett has over 400+. The funding is somewhere between $500,000.00 & $600,000.00 per year that we have now lost. The reality is we've been using a loophole to keep this funding coming to us while at the same time expanding our school population.

By having a separate school, within a school, we have been dividing our numbers to make it appear we have less students divided into two separate high schools, however they are all housed within one physical high school, share the same teachers, have the same lunch and recess breaks, play the same sports under the same coaches etc.. It seems the state has caught onto this and is pulling our small school funding, as of now, this year. We will not be getting these payments that our 2014/15 operating budget was based on.

Was our superintendent aware of this possibility? Yes he was. There was an informal investigation in September regarding this concern. We did not hear about this at any board meetings either. Which you'd think a good business manager would notify the board so that discussion can begin around the possibility of losing such a large piece of our funding. Randy Trani did not bring this to the attention of our school board.

Could he have known this might happen prior to creating the STEM school? Yes he certainly did. In fact this exact possibility was brought up in a board meeting by Victoria Purvine in December of 2013 when the board was discussing student population numbers.

Although Randy claims the situation of losing this funding is no different than the same problems we already face, it only makes those problems that much harder. But why do it knowing that?

Below you will find the letter from Oregon Department of Education and excerpts from the board meeting mentioned. These are taken straight from audio files I have. This could have been avoided.

We are now facing yet another unnecessary crisis with the finances of our schools. I ask you, is this good business? Is this sound management? Is this a moral and ethical way to operate our schools and set examples for our children? Is finding any loop hole you can to make a buck until you get caught what we want for Corbett School District? I don't know about you but for me the answer is a resounding no.  

We could have not brought in the 480 kids from the charter school when it closed, made some hard choices and cuts at that time and kept our small school funding. Instead they went for the grand plan, created the STEM school, expanded the district by hundreds, and in a nutshell, gambled with our kids education. It's time for real change in Corbett.

We need a school board that will hold our superintendent accountable and will truly represent the best interest of this community and our children's education. Clearly except for a few, this is not what we have. We deserve an administration for our schools that will make sound business decisions and operate with basic ethical standards. Or in the end, as is now, it's our children who will pay for the lack of planning and poor choices by the adults running Corbett School District.

Board meeting Dec 18, 2013

While discussing and setting the number of students at 1200 for CSD, this conversation occurred:


At some point though if your going to have 400+ kids in your high school your going to lose your small school funding which is 500,000. So if your adding all these extra kids in than actually your having to add a whole bunch more kids cause now I have to educate them and pay everything else. So where does this number work to make sure we don't lose that, because you guys are talking 400 in the high school which is too many to keep the funding.


Yeah your right, we would lose our small high school correction for Corbett high school if we added more kids to Corbett high school. If the district opens a separate school like we already have, right now it's called Corbett charter school, that doesn't impact our small school funding at all. So there's several ways where you could maintain the population of 400 in the high school without jeopardizing the small school correction. One would be a charter school or the other would be the district could open another school, like you've heard me talk before about a STEM school. Because your right, it's important, $500,000 that we'd lose.


I would think the legislation might start looking at places like ours if we're running a school within a school, and say we're stopping that.


They might do that and let's just say they did, our problem still exists it would just make it even harder for us to operate if that was taken away from us. We'd be faced with the same decisions we are now just an extra 500,000 worse. We could sell something, we could pass an operating levy, we make cuts, or we could bring in more kids. Those are the only 4 solutions.


So with the small school funding even we still have the original problem.


Last year we discussed we wouldn't have more than 1200 and now we're saying no less.


Well we have to be flexible...roll ups ......

(A key difference here may be that the Charter had its own teachers, administrators and board?)

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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2015, 01:45:55 PM »

The below was sent as an email today from the school district for "rumor control".

Date: February 4, 2015 at 1:10:17 PM PST
Subject: Rumor Control About the ODE and Small High School Adjustment


A few months ago I was able to share with the board some good short term news about funding from the ODE for Corbett School District.  This week I shared some potential long term bad news from the ODE.  I  want to emphasis that it is potential bad news and very preliminary.

Last Thursday the District received a letter from ODE stating that they were going to retroactively take away our small high school funding for this school year as they felt the separation between the two high schools was not sufficient to warrant the extra ADMw.

They gave us until Feb. 9th to respond.   Our legal advisers are out of the country and they asked me to contact the ODE to request and extension until March1st.   ODE granted the extension this week.

Our lawyers are not at all sure that this is as cut and dried a case as ODE is portraying it.  They need time to investigate.  They are also not sure if the retroactive nature of the decision is defensible as we followed all of the ODE standards for applying for a new school.
But what does all this mean relative to history?

Some people, including two members of our board, thought that we should forgo this money all along and not even attempt to create two separate schools.
 Some people, including five members of our board, thought that we should create two schools because it made sense in that students needed the option to participate in a stand alone STEM school; a byproduct of which was the retention of the small high school adjustment.
If this decision is final we will no longer have two schools this year which could hurt kids in the long run. And we will be short about $580,000 this year and forever unless two schools are created sometime in the future.
It is important to understand and acknowledge that if this decision is final we are no worse off financially than we would have been had we never started the EnviroSTEM School.
How does this intersect with our facility efforts?

As you know each GO bond we have launched involved significant components of construction aimed at providing facilities for STEM school activities.
Had anyone of those passed it would have helped our case.
As this is a considerable sum of money, the Board will need to seriously consider how future facility projects can impact this situation.  In short we may need two buildings.
What is likely to happen financially?

There are many options I can see happening with regard to the financial piece of the question.  I will arrange them in what I see is the best to worse case scenarios.

Our legal representatives demonstrate to the ODE that there are dozens of examples around the state where schools share space, and that given the sketchy nature of ODE guidance on this topic the decision is reversed and we carry on as we are now.
Our legal representatives demonstrate to the ODE that there are dozens of examples around the state where schools share space, and that given the sketchy nature of ODE guidance on this topic the decision is modified to eliminate the retroactive nature of the decision.  The  ODE describes fixes to the situation that does not require a new building and we implement those fixes before next year.
The ODE does not reverse their decision but they do describe a number of fixes we can take to satisfy their requirements and although we do not qualify for the Small High School Adjustment this year we do either next year or the following year.
The ODE does not reverse their decision and they describe a number of fixes that are impossible to implement in the next two and a half years and the small high school adjustment is gone for ever. (You can only go without the small high school adjustment for three years before it is lost forever.)
From, our research so far it seems unlikely that the last bullet will be the case.

What is likely to happen educationally?

STEM instruction is important for kids!  We will continue to provide this no matter what.
What changes do we need to make short term to address the financial implications?

At this point none....for two reasons.
First, and to reiterate, "Our lawyers are not at all sure that this is as cut and dried a case as ODE is portraying it.  They need time to investigate.  They are also not sure if the retroactive nature of the decision is defensible as we followed all of the ODE standards for applying for a new school. "
Luck is on our side and the short term financial boon I reported two months ago will help us weather this year even if the worst case happens and we retroactively need to return the money.   As long as we have this short term money it is imperative that we disturb the school year as little as possible."


Mindy Schmidt
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2015, 01:36:58 PM »

".... and that given the sketchy nature of ODE guidance on this topic ....."

A few comments about this email from Facebook:

"the sketchy nature of Oregon Department of Educations guidance" The Oregon Department of Education is the organization this is being described as sketchy? REALLY!? They create a another school on paper as a means to get more money from the state and ODE is the one with a sketchy nature. WOW. " February 6 at 7:12am

" ... Or the "sketchiness" in the idea that if we were actually "DOUBLE DIPPING" ADMw from some loophole in the law (and it is legal to do right now...) in the amount of 2.6 MILLION DOLLARS .... that maybe we could have put that towards fixing buildings or seismically upgrading facilities OR AT LEAST allowing the discussion with the board/public vs. "glossing over it" ?

And then to basically BLAME the community or "TWO BOARD MEMBERS" for not supporting Randy with the idea of a SEPARATE school for STEM... ( Again - they supported the curriculum of STEM just not cheating the system.... ) because he (RANDY) got caught. Yah.

I would just like some accountability and transparency when it comes to millions of dollars or UNETHICAL leadership in our school district .... I guess people in this community can keep voting in who Randy and his staff want on that board ... and those board members will continue giving us all the results we have had .... Including COMPLETELY dividing the community.

OR maybe we can all wake up and elect folks willing to become educated on current laws and policies and get our schools back to representing Corbett in Corbett Schools. " February 6 at 7:50am
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2015, 07:25:53 AM »

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