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Closing & Consolidating Schools

Pete Springer/OPB

In his proposed budget, Governor John Kitzhaber suggested, among other things, consolidating schools and possibly districts. Well, some of that is already happening. Eugene is closing four elementary schools. In Clackamas County parents gave passionate testimony about a proposal to combine a magnet school with another elementary program, and potentially close two other schools.

Parents at the magnet school, Sojourner, are worried that the program will be diluted or fade away. Sojourner focuses on teaching to the multiple intelligences of children. We talked a bit about the school a couple years back on a show about innovation in education. PTA president Alicia Hamilton told me what she values in particular about the school:

The culture that is grown from the second you walk in the door in kindergarten. You stay with the same people for seven years. You all have to learn how to work together because people all learn in different ways. You have to learn as a community to accept people the way they are and figure out how to co-exist, and you do this through music, violin, Spanish…

Joe Krumm, the director of community relations for the North Clackamas School District says the Sojourner decision is:

a little slice of a giant pie of change. The bigger pie is how many other school districts in the state are closing schools. Districts are looking at massive reductions.

But then there’s Governor Kitzhaber saying schools will get more money this coming year than last. On Thursday’s show from Salem we heard lawmakers want to get the schools budget done early.

Is consolidating schools a good idea? What impact will consolidation have on education — and the education budget — now and in the future? What do you think of the decisions being made about K-12 schools this year?

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