Letters from the Board

  • Riverdale School Board winter letter

    Posted by Riverdale School Board on 1/20/2020 8:00:00 AM

    Dear Riverdale Community,

    We’d like to share a warm welcome (despite the forecasted weather) to the start of a new year AND a new decade. As we head into 2020, we’re reflecting on fall successes and are anticipating a busy spring in the District. Here’s a look at what’s been going on, a look forward and information about how you can get involved.

    Fall Happenings

    Student Success Act work

    This fall, we worked hard with our Superintendent, teachers and greater Riverdale Community to identify focus areas for our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP), the required first step to securing funding from the Student Success Act (SSA)Click here to view the finished product. Please see below for more information about next steps in securing our SSA funding. 

    Superintendent Schlachter

    We are glad to announce that we’ve extended Superintendent Jim Schlachter’s tenure with the District through June 2021. Jim has provided stable and experienced leadership to our District, and we are happy to get more of his time with a new .8 time contract beginning this month. Jim’s experience will help guide us through the complex SSA funding process this year and set the course for continued District success.

    Foundation’s Annual Campaign

    We’d like to thank the Riverdale Foundation for organizing another successful fundraising campaign. To date, we’ve received over $1.4 million in donations with a 71 percent participation rate. As you know, these funds are necessary to bridge the gap between monies received through public funding and the true cost of a Riverdale education. Thank you to Campaign Chair, Amber Hillman, Foundation Board Members, call captains and to our generous parents, grandparents, neighbors, alumni and other community members for their support. Although the formal campaign has ended, the Foundation gratefully accepts donations at any time.

    Improving communication 

    This school year we’ve worked to improve communication and planning among our District stakeholders by inviting the Riverdale Teacher Association and RHS/RGS Parent Teacher Clubs to participate at our Board meetings. On that note, RTA President, Adam McLain, and Vice President, Jen McDonald, shared the following update with us. We are grateful for their leadership and contributions to the District.

    “Here at roughly the halfway point through the year, the Riverdale Teachers Association is pleased to report on some of the collaboration we've shared with the District this year. The Student Success Act, of course, provides great opportunities for all stakeholders to be involved in planning for ways to improve student experiences and outcomes thanks to that new investment.

    We appreciate having a presence and a voice with our community at board meetings. Through this, we've been able to share some of the incredible work being done by the teachers of Riverdale, including deep, intensive writing instruction, and diverse college-level opportunities and focus. We hope to continue to share such examples, like the rocket projects at both buildings, and the inclusion of family members to share unique family traditions at the grade school. At those board meetings, we've also been able to share concerns and thoughts as they arise and are grateful to the board for listening well and responding thoughtfully.

    RTA building representatives have been meeting regularly with principals for open, proactive communication, and always, we have found the door to Jim Schlachter's office to be open for creative, collaborative problem solving. It is our hope and belief that this should be the way of business at Riverdale: that through clear communication and an intention to understand and solve problems, we can empower teachers to be creative and bold in their work with students, and we can make this the most excellent educational institution it can be.”

    Looking Forward

    Student Success Act (SSA) Update

    This January and February we will continue our work to finalize our Student Success Act application, which is due in March. Not familiar with the SSA? In 2019, the state voted to approve additional funding to invest in Oregon’s public schools. These funds are required to be spent within the four categories detailed below in order to improve mental health outcomes and increase academic achievement for underserved student populations.

    Riverdale School District expects to receive at least $400,000 for the 2020-21 school year. We continue to engage our community with roundtable discussions, surveys, and conversations about how Riverdale can best use these funds.  We have received almost 200 responses from our most recent survey emailed to Riverdale community/parents/staff, which will help us prioritize our incoming SSA funding. Next, we’ll be sending the YouthTruth Survey to our students, families and teachers to learn about school climate and culture and the students’ academic experience. 

    Additionally, we are forming a community SSA Advisory Group to include parents, staff, School Board and PTC members to help guide and finalize our application.

    If you have additional questions regarding the SSA, please reach out to the Superintendent, a School Board member and/or attend upcoming School Board meetings as we are always grateful for additional parent input.

    SAA Funds Four Areas:

         
     
    Reducing Class Size 
    Ensure appropriate student-teacher ratios or staff caseloads and/or increasing the use of instructional assistants 
     
    Increasing Instructional Time
    Increase student schedule efficiency and updating technology to improve instruction.
     
    Improving Health & Safety
    Social and emotional learning, trauma-informed practices, student mental and behavioral health.
     
    Well-Rounded Education  
    Increase access to: Art, Music, PE, STEM, CTE, engaging electives, accelerated college credit programs, including dual credit, IB, AP, Life Skills, TAG, and access to licensed educators with a library media endorsement. 

    RGS/RHS Update

    Our main focus is always student success at RGS and RHS, and we work closely with the Principals at both schools to that end. The Grade School team has worked especially hard recently to meet students' behavioral needs. We’re glad to announce the creation of a new position, Behavior Specialist/Restorative Coach, to assist with student behavioral difficulties at RGS. This job will be posted as soon as possible with an effort to strengthen our school climate and culture. 

    RHS is making strides in college counseling and testing. Students are signed up to take approximately 55 AP tests in the spring, over a 50 percent increase from last year. Additionally, many juniors have been encouraged to begin thinking about taking SAT Subject Tests in June. We’re also glad to offer a 5-6 week ACT preparation course this spring. In electives news, the Elective Survey conducted last spring reinvigorated our Elective Program. We successfully added new courses and embedded career and life skills into existing courses. We have received positive reviews from students and teachers regarding these changes.

    Budget Committee

    Lastly, we’re gearing up for budget season, and need to fill at least one member position and one alternate position on the Budget Committee. Budget Committee members join School Board members to review the Superintendent's proposed budget and to engage in meaningful discussions on how Riverdale allocates its resources. Are you a voter in the District who is interested in joining us? Please click here to download an application. 

    We look forward to seeing you on our campuses this spring,

    John Bogaty, Chair
    Joe Prats, Vice Chair
    Carrie Banks
    Michelle Janke
    Carrie Spurlock

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