Health & Education

District votes to close Grand Ronde Middle School

03.10.2011 Ron Karten Education

Smoke Signals editor

It's official: The Willamina School Board voted Feb. 14 to close Grand Ronde Middle School to help pare the district's budget by more than $1 million for the 2011-12 school year.

The proposal to close Grand Ronde Middle School was part of a package presented by Superintendent Mark Jeffery to keep the district in the black as state funding for schools is expected not to keep up with expenses.

Jeffery's package also included cutting his position as head of the district to a half-time position, which means that in all likelihood he will be seeking work elsewhere.

Other cuts approved by the School Board are to eliminate 16 days from next year's calendar by adopting four-day weeks and eliminating about 15 positions, including approximately six teachers.

Grand Ronde students will be bused to Willamina's Oaken Hill Drive campus, where the elementary school will serve grades kindergarten through sixth and the high school will handle seventh-graders up through seniors.

Next year's school week will run Tuesday through Friday, cutting 16 days from employee contracts and saving the district more than $1 million.

Jeffery said that cutting the superintendent's job to half-time would save the district another $65,000, which will save a teaching position.

Jeffery has said that the closure of the Middle School will likely be permanent since the 10-year outlook for state funding of education does not bode well for a significant turnaround.