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Local School Districts Begin Changes

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EUGENE, Ore. — It’s back-to-school week for thousands of families in Western Oregon. Some schools already started. Other students head back to class Thursday.¬†All students will be back by Friday.

4J, Bethel and Springfield say they each have some exciting changes.

“It’s exciting to see the kids back,” said Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Eugene School District 4J.

Berman is also excited because this is the first year working with a stable budget.

“So we have been able to sustain a level of staffing that’s commensurate with the level of students. We are able to balance our staffing better because we have had fewer budget cuts,” Berman said.

There’s a major initiative focused on teacher quality and effectiveness. Churchill High School is on a new common schedule. 4J’s youngest students will get a consistent physical education and music program.

“We are now providing an intensive nine weeks in each of the elementary schools,” Berman said.

Bethel schools will work with fewer staff this year, resulting in some larger class sizes. It’s most excited about a November bond measure that it says would keep the tax rate the same but help the district buy new textbooks, update school computers, and install video security systems.

Springfield’s class sizes are about the same, but some high schools are moving to a semester schedule. And there’s a new emphasis on improving the quality of education.

“So district wide we are using a book called The Skillful Teacher, and we are going to do some professional development on that,” said Jeff Fuller, Principal of Agnes Stewart Middle School.

And the arts?

“We’re actually going to offer more orchestra and music classes than we did the year before,” Fuller said.

One thing’s clear, it’s all cheers for those headed back to class.

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