By Kristine Thomas
Lisa Samoilov and Stephanie Ayhan have three ideas on how to increase enrollment at Monitor Elementary School in order to keep the school open.
To proceed with any one of them, they first need a commitment from Monitor parents and community members to help with the necessary work.
“Everybody has to come together as a community if we all want to keep Monitor open,” Ayhan said. “We all have to work for it. It can’t just be two or three people doing the work.”
At the June 8 school board meeting, Samoilov and Ayhan asked the Silver Falls School District board members to delay closing Monitor Elementary School while they explore the options to increase the school’s enrollment.
The women are working with ROBES, Community Roots School board members and parents to determine the best plan.
The options are:
• Offer either or both a Russian and Spanish language program. Both women said they have a list of parents living in the Silver Falls School District who are sending their children to the Heritage School in Woodburn and would be willing to send their children to Monitor if there were a Russian language program. They also said they know parents who are out-of-district who would be interested in a Russian language program.
• Merge with the Community Roots Montessori School, a charter school in the Silver Falls School District, and add a language component. They plan to continue talks with the organizers to see if this is a viable option.
• Open a foreign language charter school. Monitor has 70 students and a capacity for 160. The building is also used by Community Roots School, a public Montessori school opening in the fall, and Willamette Education Service District’s migrant preschool.
Both women said they would like to have the summer to research the best option and present a final direction at the school board’s September meeting.
At the June 8 meeting, Superintendent Craig Roessler revised his prior recommendation to close Monitor on June 30. Instead, he has recommended Monitor Elementary be closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year. He also recommended the Monitor attendance zone become part of the Butte Creek attendance zone with students living in the Monitor Elementary School attendance zone being assigned to Butte Creek Elementary for the 2010-11 school year.
Roessler said he revised his original recommendation because the funding forecast for Oregon’s K-12 schools changed. When he made the first recommendation, the financial picture was bleak with state funding ranging from $5.4 to $5.6 billion. The recent forecast is $6 billion for K-12 schools. He also was concerned having three teachers teaching three grade levels, especially when 40 percent of students are eligible for ESL programs.
“One reason for the delay is we felt more time was needed for the Monitor community to process the closure of the school and to think about where the boundary lines are going to be,” he said. “We can’t do that in a short amount of time.”
Board member Jim Sinn made a motion to table making a decision on Roessler’s recommendation until the October meeting. The motion failed due to a 3-3 tie with board members Sinn, David Beeson and Dana Smith-Madge agreeing to postpone the decision and Jamie Martinson, Tim Roth and Wally Lierman voting no. Garth King was absent.
The board will revisit the recommendation at its June 22 special board meeting for the budget hearing and adoption of the budget.
Monitor Principal Dustin Hoehn said the topic of the school closing has been a distraction for students and parents.
“It would be nice to settle the issue,” he said. “Ideally, the best option would be to keep Monitor open indefinitely. One more year would be a good second choice.”