Tag Archives: Vernonia School Superintendent

School Enrollment and Funding

Deconstructing the myths and understanding 

the realities of state funding for Vernonia Schools

When Vernonia School Superintendent Aaron Miller recently announced that enrollment at District 47J was up at the start of the 2014-15 school year, it sounded like good news.  And, for the most part, it is. 

“This is very good news,” stated Vernonia School District Superintendent Aaron Miller, when asked about the recent, and apparently unexpected surge, in registered students in Kindergarten through grade 12 at the new Vernonia Schools. “This is a huge step in the right direction.  It’s very exciting for our district to see new students come through the front door.”

The reason this is such good news is because School Districts in Oregon receive funding from the state, through the State School Fund (SSF) grant program, based on enrollment.

Enrollment in Vernonia at the start of this school year was counted at 560 students, up from 532 at the end of the 2013-14 school year.  The actual number is 589, but kindergarten students only count as a half student each, as far as the state is concerned.  So, for funding purposes, that’s an increase of twenty-eight students, which equates to a more than 5% increase.

That may not sound like much.  But in a school district which has experienced declining enrollment since the flood of 2007, including the last two years following the opening of the newly constructed schools campus, this is extremely encouraging.

“This is the first time we’ve moved forward since the flood,” says Miller, who took over as Superintendent this summer.  “In my mind that’s a very positive thing for the district and it’s a very positive thing for the community.”   Read More

Superintendent Explains K-2 Blended Classes to Concerned Parents

Over twenty people attended the August 14, 2014 Vernonia School Board meeting, most of them there to express concerns about the District’s plan to group all kindergarten through second grade students together for instruction this coming school year.

After hearing the concerns of one parent, School Board Chair Bill Langmaid asked Superintendent Aaron Miller to explain the rationale for the decision to place students in five K-2 blended classrooms this school year.

Other parents raised questions and expressed their own personal concerns throughout the rest of the discussion, which lasted for over an hour.  The parents were mostly focused on how individual student’s needs would be addressed in a blended classroom setting.

Miller told the audience that the initial impetus for the move was the breakdown of numbers of registered students in each of the three grade levels.  “As we were looking at those numbers and trying to figure out  how to put them into equitable class sizes between the four teachers, there were no good options,” explained Miller.  Miller said that even by adding a fifth teacher there were still big disparities in class sizes and went on to explain that the solution to blend all three grades came from the teachers themselves along with Miller.  Miller noted that by adding a fifth teacher class sizes have been reduced from thirty-one students to twenty-three students.  “That is a significant difference and played heavily into our decision making,” said Miller.  Read More

Superintendent Explains K-2 Blended Classes to Concerned Parents

Over twenty people attended the August 14, 2014 Vernonia School Board meeting, most of them there to express concerns about the District’s plan to group all kindergarten through second grade students together for instruction this coming school year.

After hearing the concerns of one parent, School Board Chair Bill Langmaid asked Superintendent Aaron Miller to explain the rational for the decision to place students in five K-2 blended classrooms this school year.

Other parents raised questions and expressed their own personal concerns throughout the rest of the discussion, which lasted for over an hour.  The parents were mostly focused on how individual student’s needs would be addressed in a blended classroom setting.

Miller told the audience that the initial impetus for the move was the breakdown of numbers of registered students in each of the three grade levels.  “As we were looking at those numbers and trying to figure out  how to put them into equitable class sizes between the four teachers, there were no good options,” explained Miller.  Miller said that even by adding a fifth teacher there were still big disparities in class sizes and went on to explain that the solution to blend all three grades came from the teachers themselves along with Miller.  Miller noted that by adding a fifth teacher class sizes have been reduced from thirty-one students to twenty-three students.  “That is a significant difference and played heavily into our decision making,” said Miller.  Read More

Cox Announces Retirement as Superintendent, Board Hires Him Back Half-Time

CoxRetire-webVernonia School Board Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Cox has announced that he will be retiring, effective June 30th.

Cox made the announcement at the School Board meeting on Thursday May 9, 2013.  Following an  Executive Session, the School Board returned to regular session and voted to accept Cox’s resignation.  The School Board then voted to hire Cox back as a half-time Superintendent.

The move will free up approximately $55,000 in an extremely tight district budget.  The School

District Budget Committee met to receive the annual budget and Budget Message earlier in the School Board Meeting on the same evening.

Cox began his career as the Vernonia School District Superintendent in June of 2006.  His tenure was marred by the December 3, 2007 flood which damaged all three Vernonia school buildings.  Cox has been instrumental in the development and construction of the $40 million dollar, new Vernonia school campus, which opened in September of this past school year.