Letters from the Board

  • Celebrating accomplishments and projects underway

    Posted by Riverdale School Board on 12/18/2018

    Dear Riverdale Community,

    It’s hard to believe we are already in the second trimester of the 2018-19 school year and winter break is almost here. This year is truly flying by, and we hope that everyone is enjoying the season and looking forward to 2019.

    As we reflect on the past several months, the school board is excited to celebrate several accomplishments and also share a variety of projects that are underway and will have a positive impact on our school district in the months and years to come.

    Let’s start with some exciting news:

    Riverdale test scores

    Riverdale again ranked among the top schools in Oregon based on last spring’s Smarter Balanced state test scores. You can find this information and more in our district’s state report cards on the Oregon Department of Education's website by searching for Riverdale. The reports are also available on our district website under About Us > Our Schools.

    Superintendent Schlachter

    Jim Schlachter, who has been serving as our interim superintendent since July, continues to do a fantastic job for our district. We are delighted to share that he recently agreed to extend his contract (at .6 FTE) with Riverdale for an additional year. This is truly great news for district stability and predictability, and for the community as a whole. We are grateful for his leadership and look forward to the next 18 months being especially productive with Jim at the helm.

    Foundation’s Annual Campaign

    This year, the Riverdale School Foundation achieved its best results ever — raising more than $1.35 million to date and reaching a 76 percent participation rate (our highest since we have been tracking it). Even though the campaign has officially ended, the foundation would welcome additional contributions to help meet its $1.5 million goal. To donate or pledge, visit www.riverdalefoundation.org.

    We extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the foundation members that worked on the campaign and to the community members that generously contributed to making this our best year yet. A special thank you goes to Amber Hillman, the campaign chair. She was an inspiring leader for this effort and the results speak for themselves.

    New board member

    We’d like to formally introduce Paul Spellman as our newest school board member. Paul is filling the seat vacated by Nicole Grayson, who moved out of the district this past summer. Paul and his wife Alana have three children attending Riverdale Grade School — a son in 8th grade, another son in 6th grade and a daughter in 2nd grade. This is the family’s eighth year living in the neighborhood. Please join us in welcoming Paul to the school board.

    Here’s the work in progress we mentioned earlier:

    Strategic planning

    Led by Superintendent Schlachter, and facilitated by Mike Dugas of Vision Creation Consulting, we are updating the district’s strategic plan for the next few years. With involvement from parents, teachers, administrators, PTC and foundation officers, school board members and students, we will have a new strategic plan that will clearly establish our priorities and goals for many years to come.

    We have had three very productive strategic planning sessions to date and it is our intention to have a completed vision and plan in April. It has been a great experience to see many different members of our school community working together for a common purpose that we can all believe in and get behind. Everybody has provided welcome input and it has been especially helpful to hear from our students. You can read more about the strategic planning process and the progress that has been made in the next issue of the district newsletter, the Riverdale Review, which should arrive to your home this weekend.

    Budget and finance

    Financial budgeting and projections have been, and continue to be, a top priority for our district this year. To help our schools with budget projections for the next two years, Superintendent Schlachter and our business manager, Cindy Duley, have been working with an outside budget expert, Rick Larsen, to provide a detailed and accurate budget projection for the remainder of this year and next year. As anticipated, the governor’s proposed budget was built on a “current service level” model — keeping schools within the same operational constraints. With predictable increases in PERS costs, this is less than we need, but does not come as a surprise. The district data projected and shared at our Nov. 5 board meeting is pretty close to what would be our reality if the governor’s budget proposal were to become law. However, the state budget development is in its early stages and will likely change over the course of the legislative session. We will continue to update our budget projections as things shift at the state level. Monthly budget updates are discussed and made available at our school board meetings.

    Additionally, the school board has decided to reconvene a financial advisory committee in January to help advise the board on where we can be more financially prudent and where we might find additional efficiencies. This practice proved very helpful last year.

    High school schedule

    With the help of an outside expert, the school board has instructed Superintendent Schlachter to evaluate the high school schedule for suggestions on how to be more efficient and provide more options for our students. This process has begun and will involve input from teachers, parents, administrators and other interested community members.

    Advocating for Riverdale in Salem

    The majority of our school funding comes from the state, and decisions made during the Oregon legislative session can have a big impact on our district. As a result, the school board plans to advocate for our schools during the next legislative session in Salem. We’d like to welcome interested parents, who are willing to write letters or talk with their state legislators, to reach out to a school board member so we can coordinate our efforts. Given the budget proposal advanced by Gov. Kate Brown, it will again be necessary to inform legislators of the increase needed in the K-12 budget. Detailed information on the need will be shared during the legislative term for you to use if you choose to contact legislators.

    Have a great winter break

    We hope you find this information helpful. We will continue to provide updates periodically throughout the remainder of the school year. Should you have any questions or concerns, please email Superintendent Schlachter or any board member. We welcome your feedback. We also invite you to attend our board meetings. Board emails and meeting dates can be found at www.riverdaleschool.com/board.

    Have a great winter break and happy holidays!

    The Riverdale School Board

    Michelle Janke, Chair
    John Bogaty, Vice Chair
    Mike Gunter
    Joe Prats
    Paul Spellman

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