$15 Million Corbett School District GO Bond – Failed
General Obligation bonds (GO Bonds) can be used for what is described on the ballot. In the past GO bonds could not be used for anything but capital improvements. As of 2011 they can now be used for anything with a life of more than one year.
Corbett Schools commissioned a scientific phone survey from the Nelson Group. Results to note from this survey:…
Area tax payers would support approximately 8 million for a new middle school building and seismic upgrades to improve safety for students in the district.
Voters would be more likely to vote for a bond if assurances were made about a limit on bringing in more out of the area students.
If we build it they will come. But who will pay?
The School Board voted 5-2 to place almost twice the amount the community survey results showed the community would support. Select here for notes from this meeting and to read the comments from the board members about how they voted. Select here for a recap of this survey and to see the full survey results as a pdf document.
26-154 Corbett School District - Official
VOTE FOR 1
Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . 633 37.66
No. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,048 62.34
In the report from January 16, 2013, from the Group MacKenzie, as part of the same conditional use application with Multnomah County, it states that currently our district enrolls 1,270 students for the 2012/2013 school year.
According to the Oregon Department of Education ( ODE ) Corbett’s resident ( students actually living in Corbett ) student population has fluctuated between 600 and 700 students for the past 20 years. The current application is asking for 1382 students and 80 staff ( for the main campus only ) and CAPS in Springdale is allowed 268 students and staff.
This would bring the District total allowed/desired number to 1,730 students and staff.
The current conditional use application with Multnomah County, specifically lists that if the buildings were improved ( classrooms added ) on the main campus ( perhaps through the passing of a bond for new construction? ) that the process would need to be revisited to leave the door open for even more students.
The plans presented for improvements for this bond have included more classrooms through the construction of a new high school ( to replace the current middle school ) creating overall more square footage than we currently have, as well as possibly a new gym, a theater and an all weather track. ( The ServPro Building alone is 14,000 square feet. )
There will be a hearing on this conditional use application on October 11, 2013, at 1:00 PM. Select here for more information and to review the application.
“This wording is there to pass the bond & appease the people”
Comments made at board meetings are below. These were mostly from Mr. Bob Lawerence, who was hired to work with the district on the bond, on Superintendent Randy Trani’s recommendations. Comments were in regards to placing a $15 million dollar bond on the ballot, knowing the survey did not support the projects that they wanted that money for:
- “Verbiage change is to disguise the things those surveyed did not seem to want.” …
- “Bill it as gym space and make it whatever you want later on.” …
- “General way to describe it & get voters to approve.” …
- “Acquire land for safe traffic flow, the purpose is not for safe traffic flow but it sounds good & if your buying land you have to state that you are.” … ( This is in reference to the additional plan to purchase the ServPro Building adjacent to the School District to use as a district office, storage and possibly preschool. This building is also very old and would add an additional 12-14,000 square feet of space. )
- Also, mentioned was the concept of contributing to a bond out of the operational fund and disguising it as contributions from out of area student families.
- “This wording is there to pass the bond & appease the people”
Read an opinion piece from a parent and Corbett resident who has been attending and recording these meetings.
October 1, 2013
Letter from the State Historic Preservation Office to both Randy Trani and Charlie O’Neil seems to point to our district and board’s lack of follow through as to laws that have to do with buildings that are publicly owned and can be considered historic. Select here for the full letter and documents sent. It is possible after assessment the district receives permission to tear the building down. On the other hand, it would have seemed prudent to at least find out if demolishing the building was even allowed prior to getting costs/plans to do so and build new structures in its place.
September 3, 2013
Special board meeting for the vote on the upcoming bond.
Select here for meeting notes.
* School board meeting notes from 8/21/2013.
* An open letter from a Corbett Community member who has been attending the meetings, about the upcoming bond.
July 2013 Board Meeting
Notes taken from the board meeting can be found here. ( Including the Survey Results and information/discussions about the recommendations of the Steering Committee. )
June 13, 2013
Notes taken from the board meeting can be found here. Facilities Steering Committee Recommendation to School Board. Select here.
December 3, 2012
The below information came from the special board meeting held on 11-26-12 which was announced on 11-24-12.
1. General Information on General Obligation bonds presented by Mary McPherason, of Seattle NW.2. Presentation from DLR – Asset Management Group 3. Information on PACs and the role of the District in getting a bond. * More information to be added soon.
Mary McPherason, Vice President of SNW – [ Handout from the presentation here – pdf ]
The formula ( page 4 of the above handout ) shows that the bond levy rate is the debt service payment divided by the assessed value. Mary Macpherson was asked why we can get a higher borrowing amount now than when the 1994 bond went out and she said in 1994 the assessed value was $221,000, so the formula was 6.1 million over $221,000.
The assessed value that is being used now is $330,000. So, since assessed value has gone up over $100,000 the borrowing amount can be higher. We can not promise that taxes will not go up, as you don’t vote for a specific payment amount per year, but the total dollar amount of the bond amortized over a specific period of time.
Will taxes remain the same? CSD has made the last full payment from our property taxes, the next payment to finish paying off the Grade School will be at a lower rate so in November of 2013 the tax amount collected will be around $1.56 per assessed thousand, rather than the current $2.35 per assessed thousand.
So, if we say we won’t be raising the tax amount to finance the potential changes, the tax rate would need to stay at $1.56 per thousand– and that would give the district approximately $10.5 million in GO bonds. ( If we want to go with the current 2012 number of $2.35 per assessed thousand, the taxes would drop in 2013, then increase back up in 2014. That would get the District $14.9 million in GO bonds. )
As your assessed value rises, so will your property taxes. On page five of the above handout, you will see the average increase in assessed value (in 2009 we jumped almost 13%, but lost 5% the next year. 2010 is the only year we had negative growth since the graph starts.) The bond rate is a projected rate and the rate can not be guaranteed at this time.
2. Long Range Facility Planning
DLR Design Group
DLR is an asset management team that works with many other school districts. They presented at this meeting. You can download the presentation information by selecting here. ( pdf ) This information is what DLR does in general [ download the pdf ] and is not specific to Corbett. They are an asset management team that would come in and do a physical, program, enrollment and space assessment. They want the entire process to be highly visible and will engage the school community and the neighboring community in meetings, discussions and plans.
If the assessment determines that we may want to float a bond in the November 2013 election, they want us to realize the 20-60-20 rule of thumb. Twenty percent of voters will vote for the school no matter what. As Mr. Rose put it, if the school wants to put in three new swimming pools, 20% will vote for it because they always vote for the schools. Twenty percent will always vote no on school issues. One example was a district where a school burned down and insurance wouldn’t cover all the costs… 20% voted no even though there was no other school available.
That leaves the 60% who stand there and say “Convince me.” This is the sector that wants to know: why do we need a bond, how are the students doing, are my tax dollars being spent wisely, am I being listened to as a taxpayer/community member, are we doing due diligence, do I trust the District? They want accountability from the District and depending on how each community member answers these questions, the District needs to determine if there are areas they need to correct before asking for a bond.
What was said as very Important to do: We need to have all sectors of our population show up at meetings, give input and disperse information to the community. If you don’t have all sectors, you do not have a safety valve or a realistic representation of the community. Pages 39-44 cover COMMUNITY OUTREACH. Including: Site-based meetings, Public meetings, District publications, Special brochures, Notes home with students, District website/email, Local publications & broadcast stations, Social media.
* Although several community members that were then attending these meetings stood and spoke for the record that they felt we should go with DLR, we did not hire them. We instead went with Rommel – who we used for the Springdale School. Of note, Rommel did not turn in their proposal on time or even to the specs requested.
3. PAC ( Political Action Committee )
When going for a bond, the District and the PAC (Political Action Committee) have two similar, but different roles.
The District can tell people to Vote. The District can pay staff to give information out to the community, printed informational materials, facilities assessment and all planning. If the bond passes the District may reimburse themselves for money spent to that point. Their information should be informational in content only. Not persuasive.
The PAC can tell people to Vote yes. The PAC would have to pay for any consulting done and for their own materials and costs. For a bond the size that is being mentioned, the PAC should be looking to raise $12,000 to $15,000. All donations are public record and need to be available at anytime for anyone who wants to see them.
* 11/28/12 there was a special school board meeting to consider placing a bond on an upcoming election ballot. Select here for the meeting notes and also the presentation documents that were provided by the presenters.
HB 453 – Oregon Rural Remote/Small School Funding
(3) A school may qualify as a small high school if:
(a) The school is in a school district that has an ADMw of less than 8,500;
and (b) The average daily membership in grades 9 through 12 for a high school teaching:
(A) Four grades is below 350. (B) Three grades is below 267.
Select here for the language of this bill.
Update: CSD has lost our small school funding in 2015!
Select here to find out more.
CSD has also reported our 9th graders at the middle school, even though they physically attend the High School.
This practice started under Superintendent Dunton in 2003 ( Now the Director of the Charter School ) and has been continued under Superintendent Trani. Our 9th graders are not physically attending the middle school but we report them there. The Charter is/was reporting their 9th graders at the high school – where they actually attend. Now we will be adding a STEM school (or trying to) to continue this practice. More here.
In 2009 Corbett was faced with a tough choice. Neighboring school districts were going to stop allowing transfers out of their districts and Corbett had about 100 students currently enrolled. The choice was either to open the Corbett Charter School, or suffer an “absolutely crippling” loss. And so the Corbett Charter School, something that Bob Dunton and Randy Trani had been working on for five years, quoted as saying here, was quickly voted and passed by the Corbett School Board.
“Under state law, * districts can’t prevent their students from transferring to a charter school, which must select students based on a lottery… Dunton didn’t advertise the charter school, hoping that the 100 out-of-district students would all make it in. All of them did, as well as 245 other students. Many of those new students were home-schooled or enrolled in private schools before, but 17 are from the Reynolds School District. ” [ Oregonian Article 4/12/2009 ] * This law has changed as of 1/1/2012 – Read here.
The 2010 shortfall was more of an unexpected emergency. It was explained by Randy Trani at an informational meeting on 9/14/2010. The result this time was a 3 million dollar levy on the fall ballot that did not pass. Here is one article online prior to the election. The result was that the Corbett Charter School was expanded and its contract extended until 2014. In addition parents were asked to send in donations to help meet our funding gap. You can read more about this here.
Still in a budget crisis and projected to be almost $600,000-$754,000 short for the 2011-2012 school year. In response our school board applied for a one million dollar loan for the first phase of creating more classrooms in Corbett School District at the Historic Springdale School, to bring in additional students for revenue from out of district.
Select here for the latest vision that will mean another expansion to our district population of up to 225 additional out of the area students.
In March of 2011 the Corbett School District School Board voted 5-2 to extend the current Corbett Charter School until 2014 and allow it to bring in up to 510 out of district students to help with revenue for our district. For online discussion on this topic select here. The Corbett School District School Board also voted to cut 10 school days and charge in-district parents for full day kindergarten, $2500.00 per year, among other plans that didn’t all end up being necessary by the end of the year. [ Link]
December 9, 2013
To: Randy Trani
CC: All school board members and the Corbett Post
As an audience member at the special board meeting on December 2, 2013, I feel there are important issues that must be addressed. The board confirmed, at this meeting, that they had no previous knowledge of the statements and information they received in the form of 15 pages you had prepared for them. The board was asked to agree to prepared statements and to actively promote these statements in the community. (One board member did ask to see the information the day before the meeting, when the board was made aware of what was planned by you, and you confirmed during this meeting that you denied that request.) Chairman O’Neil is remiss as the chair in allowing all this to happen.
Below are some of the specific concerns I have with the information you shared at this meeting:
The research you did regarding ORS 358.653 Heritage Buildings on the very day of the meeting.
A letter was sent to you, and cc’d to Chairman Charlie O’Neil, that was dated October 1, 2013 by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Specialist Mr. Jason Allen, discussing the value of our type of building as a historic structure. The letter asked you to share it with your board members, “so that all may be aware of the applicability of this statute”. Included in that correspondence was a copy of the ORS 358.653. You stated during this meeting that you had “just looked up the information that day”. The truth is you were given that information from the State almost 2 months prior. You did not choose to share it with the board. By not passing that letter on to your board, as requested from the State, you did a disservice to Mr. Allen and the remaining school board members.
Misrepresenting the truth about Oregon State school funding.
All schools receive the same base amount within a few dollars per student by the State based on an identical funding rubric (around $6,585.) Other monies may find their way to different districts because of Special Programs based upon the district’s individual needs. You and some of your board members have continued to perpetuate that Corbett School District “does more with less” and Mr. Hyzer stated other districts get 25% more than us. Other board members pointed out this is untrue when stated. As a Superintendent you are not doing your job by allowing this misinformation to continue. Other Districts may pursue every dollar they can get (For example, Title 1 funding), but you have stated in public meetings that it is not worth the time to go after these dollars.
Infusing “dangerous” and “liability” into statements you were asking the board members to not only agree to but also promote in the community.
“Dangerous” was added by Bob Lawrence during the Steering Committee meetings and is only related to current Building Code definitions. It is not an actual condition of the building. “Liability” is a word added by you at the Special Board meeting. When you were questioned about this word, you stated that actually it was just your opinion. As the Superintendent you should not be putting out your opinions regarding important issues like this at board meetings or encouraging board members to agree with these false statements and encouraging them to repeat them in the community as you did during this special board meeting. It appears you are using these words as leverage to garner support for passing the next bond. This conversation comes on the heels of a bond failure, which for many was based on a lack of trust for just these types of reasons.
“Bad water” at the middle school for over 10 years?
If this were actually true, then why was the problem not corrected when it was discovered? Why were the people in the chain of responsibility not terminated for not addressing it? Why are signs not posted or why have parents not been officially notified? The fact is, the water at the Middle School is provided by the Corbett Water District and is treated just the same as any other water delivered to Corbett residents. The State has always approved Corbett Water samples. If you have tests showing the water has been “non-potable for the last ten years, as you stated during this meeting, please send me the copies of these tests. Otherwise, it appears you could be using your position as the superintendent to manufacture fear and influence over your board and community in a clearly unethical manner.
Using Title 9 as a “liability” issue:
This is in fact a function of participation based on the percentage of male and female enrollment and is not a physical space issue. The question centers around equal opportunity and nothing else. So, if 60% if your students are male, and 40% are female, you should see equal participation in overall athletic numbers.
The Superintendent should clarify this for the board and the audience because it appears many are unfamiliar with the exact meaning of Title 9 and they assume it means a major expense for capital improvements such as equal sized shower rooms. A class action law suit (2011) which was brought against many Oregon school districts included Corbett School District. The lawsuit was regarding participations rates and lack of opportunities for the female students, not the size of the locker rooms. This lawsuit was based on Title 9 requirements and alleged:
The CORBETT SCHOOL DISTRICT 39 data, as outlined in the Factual Allegations above, demonstrate that the District is not providing equal opportunities for female CORBETT HIGH SCHOOL students to play sports under Title IX’s three-part participation test.
In closing, I would like to say the meetings in Corbett do not appear to be Board meetings, but rather Superintendent meetings. This contributes to the low turn out by the public as they are there to hear discussion by their elected officials, and that is not what takes place. Especially when the meetings run on well past the optimum of two hours, in this case the meeting went for 5 hours.
January 6, 2014 | To the Corbett School Board and Others,
An invitation was presented to our school board members at the December 2nd, 2013 ( Corrected ) school board meeting, to attend an open forum at the Grange, sponsored by NEMCCA (NE Multnomah County Community Association). This was to be a chance for community members to ask our individual board members questions about our schools. It was to be moderated and facilitated for the board. When the question was asked about the best date for the school board, Board Chairman Charlie O’Neil requested that the forum take place prior to the January board meeting. This has been the goal that has since been worked toward diligently.
The date was set for the Corbett Grange Hall on January 11, 2014 from 4 pm until 6 pm. Almost a month after this meeting, (Corrected) Chairman O’Neil contacted NEMCCA stating that this meeting would be a public meetings violation and so the school board could not attend. The Oregon School Board Association (OSBA) had been contacted by NEMCCA prior to this call and this meeting met all the presented OSBA guidelines. See the attached letter. ( Below )
I called Chairman O’Neil to work to make this meeting happen for our community, and explain that we met the OSBA criteria. Chairman O’Neil said he had received an e-mail from the OSBA a couple of weeks ago regarding public meeting requirements and assumed this meeting did not meet that criteria. I asked him why he had not passed this information on to those putting on the meeting so this could have been resolved, or even passed on to the other board members. He had no response. After going over the concerns, Chairman O’Neil said he would call the OSBA and get additional clarification.
On Friday January 3rd, 2014, ( Corrected ) I again spoke with Chairman O’Neil. He shared that he had spoken to Superintendent Trani regarding the legalities. I asked him what ORS would be violated by having the board attend this meeting and he did not have an answer. The chairman shared that the district prefers to hold their own meeting, at their own venue, and only after the board has voted on the Charter and upcoming bond issues. What Chairman O’Neil finally said was, the board did not want to attend a meeting at this time. I spoke with a couple of the board members, they had not been contacted by the Chair regarding attending this meeting. This was a decision the Chair made for the board.
Let this letter serve as both a public record of our failed attempt to allow the community a venue to receive answers to their questions and as something for our board members and community to discuss and consider as well. Corbett citizens deserve better than this.
January 8, 2014 Special Board Meeting Link ( Chairman addressed this letter/situation)
Attachment to the above letter to the Corbett School District Board of Directors
January 2014 from Gary Purvine.
Following are the specific areas of concern that the Chairman assumed that our forum would not “meet”.
As you can see, we were prepared to meet all of these requirements.
* The School Board Chairman must call for a special board meeting at least 24 hours in
advance of the event and identify the purpose of the meeting. As the board is already
holding a Special Board meeting on January 8, 2014 meeting this obligation could have easily been
* No discussion or deliberation between the board members could occur if four or more
board members attended. The individual board members should all be well aware of the laws in
this regard. Whenever 4 or more board members are together it constitutes a quorum. Also, a
moderator was scheduled to help insure there was no discussion between board members and the
same question could not be asked of two board members. All questions would be in writing and
passed to the moderator and then the board member would have two minutes for their
response. These two minutes would be timed to keep things moving along. This would allow for as
many questions as possible being asked and no one board member dominating the meeting.
* The physical meeting place must be ADA accessible. The grange is ADA accessible. There is
also a sound system for those who are harder of hearing, or who prefer to sit towards the back.
* Minutes or notes need to be taken. The NEMCCA board members who were organizing this
event had a recorder available, and were willing to pass a copy to the school for their records, or
have them transcribed if preferred. In a phone conversation with Chairman O’Neil he stated that
he was concerned that a recorder might break, we assured him we would have two there.
THE BELOW WAS SENT TO THE OSBA ATTORNEYS 1/4/2014
Please help us in making a successful Public Meeting between our community and the
Corbett school board members.
NEMCCA (Northeast Multnomah County Community Association) has invited
the Corbett School Board to an open forum with the public to answer written questions
from the audience regarding public school matters. The meeting will be held on
Saturday, January 11, 2014 at the Corbett Grange Hall, which is an ADA approved
building and frequently holds public meeting events. The meeting will be recorded so
that minutes will be available for the Board and NEMCCA.
A moderator will conduct the Q&A session allowing a two-minute response from
individual board members. Each member will answer questions without input from other
members of the board, and no one will be allowed to correct or add to statements that
have been made. Each board member will be answering questions based on their
understanding of issues, or beliefs. There will be no discussion or deliberation by the
board during this meeting on any subject.
We proposed this plan to the school board approximately 30 days ago and at that time
four of them voiced that they would be able to participate, we have not heard from the
others. Now the board Chair has contacted us saying he believes the meeting to be a
violation, or potential violation, of public meeting laws.
I have spoken with Peggy Holstedt of the OSBA, requesting that she speak with an
attorney to make sure we are not in any violation, as that would never be our intent.
She said she spoke with one of you, and that we needed to make sure the bUilding was
ADA accessible (it is), that we have minutes taken (we are suggesting a recording that
can be shared and transcribed if necessary), that there is no discussion or deliberation
(none was ever intended, strictly Q&A) and that the Board has to announce this as a
special board meeting 24 hours in advance outlining it as a forum with the public,
presented by NEMCCA. (This can be done at their Special Board meeting being held
on January 8,2014).
Since I received the requirements from Ms. Holdstedt, the Chair, who said he had also
spoken with Ms. Holdstedt, contacted one of our board members saying the meeting is
definitely a violation of the public meeting laws. However, Mr. O’Neil has been unable
to explain what portion of the law we could be violating.
Please send too us your view of our request and tell us if our protocol is accurate and if
not, then what can we do to correct this matter.
NEMCCA (Northeast Multnomah Community Association) is a public entity established
in the late 1950’s to pass along matters that concern our community and we are not
allowed by bylaws to express a political opinion. Therefore, we are trying to do what is
best for our community and that is to provide the community with information.
Original PDF can be downloaded here.
Did the district non-renew the Charter School?
Here are the laws about renewing a Charter School.
The School Board sent a letter to Bob Dunton in early April 2013 about possible non-renewal of the Charter’s RENTAL agreement. You can read that letter as well as Bob Dunton’s response at this link.
Bob Dunton stated on Facebook in June 2013 that he will be asking for a 5 year contract renewal and plans to stay in Corbett. He also tried opening a new Charter in San Diego but was denied in late October 2013.
Bob sent a letter stating he fully intends to continue in Corbett next year with his wife and you can read that letter here on 12/16/2013- which was about a month before the board voted on this decision.
The hearing to renew the Charter was set for Wednesday January 22, 2014 where the Charter School was renewed in a vote of 7-0 on advice of the school district’s attorney. This was even after information surfaced at the January 15th board meeting about Bob’s plans to open a Charter in Rockwood in 2015. That information is here.
At the special school board meeting on February 11, 2014 the board heard from staff, charter parents and community members. After a 2 hour executive session, the board voted 5-2 to not lease space to the Charter after this year. Emails from Bob Dunton began shortly after the conclusion of that board meeting and can be found here.
Link to an article from the Gresham Outlook titled “Corbett board must revisit lease agreement for charter school ”
CSD concluded mediation with the Charter School and the week of April 8th, 2014, the district gave about 24 hours notice to the community about a special board meeting and VOTE on a proposed five year new Charter Agreement. The board took almost 2 hours in executive session and came out only to table the vote until this week’s April 15th, 2014 regular school board meeting.
At the regular 2014 April board meeting the board again met in executive session and then returned to vote (7-0) to approve the new agreement with no details as to what the agreement was. There was a posted statement on April 17th that both the Charter Board and the District had agreed. Details of the process are unknown to the public and most of the board. Read here for the summary of that agreement as of 4/19/2014 as well as emails sent out by Bob Dunton in response.
At the April 2014 school board meeting, an explanation was requested regarding how Board Chair O’Neil and Superintendent Trani were able to appoint themselves as the District’s negotiators for the Charter Agreement. There still has not been an answer. See the letter sent to the board on May 16, 2014 here.
Select here to see the pdf that Bob Dunton presented to the Reynolds School Board at their hearing on September 24, 2014. The information about the proposed new school in Rockwood was first brought before the Corbett School board in January at their regular school board meeting. Read here for details.
* Select here to see the Charter Application and process and supporting documentation from and to the Reynolds School board.
The Reynolds School Board vote NO to the K-8 Charter proposed by Bob Dunton at their October 8th, 2014 meeting. Mr. Dunton posted to one of his Facebook pages the following about new plans in the works: ” We are going to continue to work on the Egan School, Rockwood. I think it holds the most promise for transforming education in East County. But we added an ingredient to the mix tonight. Since Reynolds is experiencing barriers to sharing our K-8 vision, we offered them a 9-12 option! The working title is The Egan School for Talented, Gifted and Highly Motivated students! (That means it will be extremely rigorous, but anyone who is willing to work hard can do it. Sound familiar?) So while we are processing appeals for the K-8 program, which really has revolutionary potential, we will let them consider a 9-12 program that would relocate the academic center of gravity in Multnomah County to somewhere around 192nd and Stark. I’m guessing they didn’t see that coming It’s important to keep irons in the fire.” ( 10/9/14 )
The Reynolds School Board vote NO again on the Charter proposed by Bob Dunton at their November 19, 2014 meeting. Likely Bob will petition the state or the community college to sponsor his school as he stated on social media he plans to open the school on time.
Bob Dunton moves to El Paso Texas to take a job in February 2015. His statement on one of his Facebook pages read that ” Oregon is pretty much a series of closed doors at this point and I want to work at something worthwhile, so we looked around and found a great school in El Paso that seems pretty welcoming.” and also this “Planning to leave in mid February. Family is staying behind for a time to wrap up school here. Exciting new prospects ease some of the disappointment. I had gotten unused to failure and the lessons that it teaches!”
Bob Dunton’s employment was terminated with the El Paso Education Initiative within a couple months of his arrival. On a Facebook post, Bob Dunton admitted this in May of 2015 and wrote; ” Yes, it’s true. I am retired. Closing up Corbett Charter School will be my last public school undertaking. I resigned from my job in El Paso when it became evident that the board was looking for a manager and not a leader. I simply don’t have the disposition to manage the status quo where I see such vast potential for improvement. And it’s no mystery that the vast majority people are threatened by even the suggestion of change. And frightened people react. I’m glad that the split happened early. I’m pretty much in love with my life and my family and am enjoying having more time to enjoy my immense good fortune. Many thanks to those who have expressed concern. “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity.” I wish for each of you that you love your life as well.”
So how did Corbett get a Charter to begin with?
The country’s only Imaginative Education Charter School is in Corbett Oregon. Select here for a recap on how we originally found ourselves with a Charter.
In short, the Corbett Charter School was conceived by our past and present Superintendents. ( Bob Dunton and Randy Trani ) The Charter was first approved by the School Board in crisis in February 2009 to retain about 100 students that were attending CSD that would have had to return to their home districts. On top of those 100 we also saw 245 additional students enroll. The Charter was then expanded in early 2011 to avoid a financial crisis due to a missing $725,000 in the budget and the failure of the levy meant to remedy the shortfall. in 2010.
“Dunton didn’t advertise the charter school, hoping that the 100 out-of-district students would all make it in. All of them did, as well as 245 other students. Many of those new students were home-schooled or enrolled in private schools before, but 17 are from the Reynolds School District. ” [ Oregonian Article 4/12/2009 ]
All on board?
Those parents in Corbett, who were aware that the Corbett School Board would be voting to create this Charter school and who questioned the changes at CSD or asked the reasons we were doing this so fast, were all but ignored. In fact the Charter had been in the works for years;
” Randy Trani, principal of Corbett’s elementary, middle and high schools, [ And now CSD’s Superintendent ] said he and Dunton [ The Superintendent at the time but now the Director of the Charter ] have been discussing a charter school for five years. The Corbett board approved the charter school at its Feb. 18 meeting, he added, noting the new institution will use the principles of “imaginative education,”. … Trani added the charter school will allow the Corbett district to stabilize its budget because it will no longer have to wonder if out-of-district students will be allowed to enroll in a Corbett school. “It puts our own destiny in our own hands,” he said.” [ The Gresham Outlook, 2/24/2009 ]
Those discussing the Charter on the Corbett Oregon web site’s forum or being critical of changes in the schools, were publicly ridiculed on Superintendent Bob Dunton’s Blog. The local web site, Corbettoregon.com, which has been online since 2002 as a community service, has been dismissed by CSD as a site of only rumors, all because of information shared there on the community forum by residents and parents.
The fact is that our School Board in Corbett took really no time to investigate options or to ask questions about the original Charter proposal, including questioning the salary of the new Charter director, Bob Dunton, which he set at over $200,000 with benefits. In fact: According to the 990 on file for 2010-2011 Bob and Sherri Dunton have a combined income of $325,114 ( Bob earning 214,173 and Sheri 110,941 as a teacher” ) Note that Kieran Egan replaced Randy Trani on the 990 and is listed as a “board member”, as is Sheri Dunton. Bob Dunton is now listed as the President. (Kieran Egan is the creator of the Imaginative Education Research Group). The Charter School and CSD currently employ much that is similar to the educational model that was denied in February 2011 for sponsorship by the State of Oregon in the Cascade Locks Charter School, of which Bob Dunton was a consultant.
In May 2011, our school board voted ( 5-2 ) to expand and extend the Charter School contract after no actual review of how they were doing. The vote was placed on the agenda the day before the public meeting and the board had TWO executive sessions discussing it prior to the vote. This means we renewed the Charter two years premature to the original agreement expiring – and until 2014. ( Making this a Charter with a 5 year contract and a Director and his wife earning over $320,000 as of 2010. ) This extension/expansion of the Charter was done in answer to the crisis of missing funds. Read more here.
Parents and those interested were never given the opportunity to ask questions about this move and there was no formal or independent assessment of the Charter School. People should read closely the State’s assessment and rejection of the Cascade Locks Charter, where Bob Dunton was listed as a consultant. There are MORE THAN A FEW similarities in that educational model and what CSD employs district wide. Select here to read that report.
Not your community school
by Bob Dunton…
“Here is a thought: Corbett Charter School is not your neighborhood school. One profound difference lies in the governance model. In a traditional public school, patrons can, based on where they reside, harangue the local elected board, assert their right to local control in public meetings, threaten recall board members or to lobby against the next construction levy. The Board is directly responsible to the voters.
Charter Schools are different. The Corbett Charter Association appoints the Charter School Board. The association board administers the non-profit organization and its members created Corbett Charter School. They designed the Corbett Charter School. With expert assistance from the Charter School Board members, they secured the start-up grant, applied for the charter, negotiated the charter agreement, staffed the school, all in record time.
It’s important to note the the Corbett Charter Association is a corporation. It conducts business. It is not a democracy. It’s not even a representative democracy. It does its business in whatever way seems best according to its own lights. Those who wish to do business with the Association do so on a strictly voluntary basis. And they may choose to do business elsewhere if there is a better alternative.” [ Bob Dunton’s letter to parents 4/2010 – select here to read the whole letter. ]
Corbett Charter School Board
As listed in the Charter School Web Site as of Janary 2012:
“Corbett Charter School (CCS) is served by the CCS Board, which is appointed by the Charter Association Board of Directors. The functions of the CCS Board are: fundraising and community relations, program monitoring and evaluation; approval, monitoring and review of the budget; approval and review CCS policy in the form of the CCS Handbook; and evaluation of the CCS Director. The Director’s evaluation is forwarded to the Charter Association Board. All CCS Board action is at the recommendation of the Director, who serves as adviser to the CCS Board.
The CCS Board serves as the charter community’s liaison to the Director as well as the ambassadors of CCS to the community. Their responsibilities include being informed and supportive of the school mission and programs as well as their implementation. They provide assurance that the actions of the school are thoughtful, effective and in compliance with the laws and regulations surrounding public charter schools. They ensure that CCS is providing a clear accounting of its budgetary status and fiscal stability.”
CCS Board Members as of May 2012
- Marje Ferek
- Brenda Fundak
- Nancy Gyerko, Chair
- Jon Tullis
Robert Dunton, Sheri Dunton and Kieren Egan
As of 9/26/2010 the board was listed as:
Charlie O’Neil – Current Board Chair. At that time Charlie sat on both boards. ( 2012 )
Holly Dearixon – Current Director of curriculum ( 2012 )
Phil Pearson – Current High School Assistant Principal. Pre-Charter he was a teacher. ( 2012 )
Lori Luna – Current Middle School Assistant Principal. Pre-Charter she was a teacher. ( 2012 )
Derek Jaques – Was our High School Assistant Principal until he left Corbett… ( 2012 )
Nancy Gyerko – Current CSD employee, full time at CAPS/Springdale. Pre-Charter she was PTA president and volunteer. ( 2012 )
Bob Dunton created the school and appointed his board. The original 990 on file with the state lists Randy Trani as President ( currently CSD superintendent ). Charlie O’Neal sat on both the Charter School Board and the public school board.
Charter Teaching Staff
From The Charter School Blog on 5/7/2010
Alyssa Reed-Stuewe will be joining the Charter School staff in a K-3 position. Ms. Reed-Stewe is an avid and knowledgeable practitioner of Imaginative Education.
Ms. Dolkus, Ms. Dunton, Ms. Sims, Ms. Kelly and Ms. Loeung will return in their current roles with the Charter School. We look forward to their continued good work on behalf of all of our students.
New to the Charter School staff at the middle school is Mr. Houck. He is a well-loved member of the Middle School staff who brings enthusiasm, wit and great expertise to the job. Ms. Robertson will return in her role as ‘Techie Tammy’ and master Charter middle school teacher.
Two new 9th grade teachers began working together this summer in preparation for an amazing 2010-2011 school year.
Ms. Katie Swanson has been a student teacher in Corbett this past year. Along with being qualified to teach across the curriculum at a high level, she brings a Spanish endorsement to the game. Ms. Swanson did her student teaching at Corbett last year and did terrific work in both the self-contained 9th and Spanish classrooms.
Ms. Tiffany Hedger is brand new to Corbett. She comes with a sterling recommendation from a valued friend and mentor. She is qualified to teach across the curriculum at the ninth grade level. She also carries a ‘spare’ degree in Spanish. We are very much looking forward to having her with us this year.
Ms. Ducey, who teaches English and AP World History to 10th graders, joins the Charter School staff this year, as do Mr. Robertson (the AP English teacher) and Mr. Swanson, the AP Calculus and Statistics (and pre-calculus) teacher. Ms. Ducey, Mr. Robertson, and Mr. Swanson will continue to teach integrated classes that include all district high school students in grades 10-12.
Bob Dunton joins the Corbett Charter School teacher ranks this year. He will be teaching Academic Decathlon four periods each day.
Finally, we are deeply honored to welcome the newest member of our school community, Dr. Kieran Egan, to the Corbett Charter School Association Board of Directors. Dr. Egan is the creator of Imaginative Education and is recognized around the world for his contribution to educational theory and practice. He will join Sheri Dunton and Bob Dunton on the Association Board.
So there it is. An amazing cast and crew. After the successes that we have already enjoyed in year one, it will be a wonderful challenge to out-do ourselves. We look forward to it.
Corbett School District Special School Board Meeting
Monday, February 24, 2014 7:00 PM
There were many comments by the audience (both from the local Corbett community and charter community) asking the board to reconsider the one year lease offer. The reason for this meeting (the only item on the agenda) was to vote on sending a letter to Bob Dunton and the Board of the Charter School in regards to the many emails Mr. Dunton had been sending out since the board voted on February 11 to deny renting space to the Charter School next year.
Audio from this meeting
Why a special board meeting to send this letter?
The emails Mr. Dunton has been sending are actually full of a lot of dirty laundry about the Corbett School District’s administration and staff. Mr. Dunton sent out one email where he gave his recollection of the day Superintendent Trani told his staff about his affair with another married staff member, as one colorful example. Other emails point to issues with how the district and charter “negotiations” actually happened and describe deals made with the Charter Director, Board Chair and Superintendent and then how those promises were broken to appease complaints by core teaching staff who also felt that they had been made promises by the Superintendent. For emails in response to the below letter, select here.
The Vote was 5-2 to send the letter
Directors Purvine and Calcagno voted against sending the letter. In the above audio of this meeting you can hear Director Purvine explain her position that this type of letter should be sent by our attorney. Director Calcagno pointed out that not all board members were (again) involved with this process and letter being drafted. Both Director Purvine and Director Calcagno were not comfortable that this letter mentions (in the 3rd paragraph) a statement regarding a separate lease agreement.
The separate “lease” will most likely need to be decided in the courts
The minutes from May 2011 list the Charter Renewal as a single resolution. That resolution was approved and included a change to the agreement to expand the charter’s current scope to help us remedy a $725,000 shortfall that was discovered in the district budget after the first year the Charter was in operation. Select here to read about this “computer glitch” that lead to the Charter’s expansion.
You can also read the May 2011 board minutes with the single resolution to renew the Charter, by selecting here to download the pdf. More information, discussion, copies of the other emails and links to recent articles and opinion in the Gresham Outlook and Oregonian can be found here: http://corbettoregon.com/forum/index.php?topic=809.0
What is the renewal process for charter schools? What information is taken into consideration by the district in making a renewal decision?
The law stipulates that the renewal should be based on the review of the charter school’s annual performance reports, annual audit of accounts and annual site visit and any other information mutually agreed upon by the public charter school and the sponsor.
* The Corbett School Board APPROVED the renewal of the Charter on January 22, 2014. ( Read here for more )
NWCEO FAQ on Charter terminations ( select the below pull out to read at a larger view ) Select here to view the full page of NWCEO FAQ as a pdf as of July 2014 ( before it was removed from their web site.)
SPECIFIC CRITERIA LANGUAGE
(8)(a) The sponsor shall base the charter renewal decision on a good faith evaluation of whether the public charter school:
(A) Is in compliance with this chapter and all other applicable state and federal laws; 1 Chap. 136 OREGON LAWS 2013 (B) Is in compliance with the charter of the public charter school;
(C) Is meeting or working toward meeting the student performance goals and agreements specified in the charter or any other written agreements between the sponsor and the public charter school governing body; (D) Is fiscally stable and has used the sound financial management system described in the proposal submitted under ORS 338.045 and incorporated into the written charter under this section; and(E) Is in compliance with any renewal criteria specified in the charter of the public charter school. (b) The sponsor shall base the renewal evaluation described in paragraph (a) of this subsection primarily on a review of the public charter school’s annual performance reports, annual audit of accounts and annual site visit and review as required
by ORS 338.095 and any other information mutually agreed upon by the public charter school governing body and the sponsor.
Select here to read the 2013 amendment for ORS 338.065
For what reasons can a charter school be terminated?
A charter school can be immediately terminated if the health and safety of students is at risk. A charter school may also be terminated for failing to meet the terms of an approved charter or ORS 338, failing to meet the requirements for student performance, failing to correct a violation of a federal or state law that is described in ORS 338.115, failing to maintain insurance as described in the charter, or failing to maintain financial stability.
Timeline of this process
Select here for the timeline: http://corbettpost.com/csd/charter-school/
At the April 2014 school board meeting, I requested an explanation regarding how you and the Superintendent were able to appoint yourselves as the District’s negotiators for the Charter Agreement. I still have not received an answer.
The only board action regarding Charter negotiations at that time had already been assigned to two board members, Mickalson and Purvine. You did not ask for a vote of the board or obtain board approval for acting on behalf of the District, therefore one would assume that all of your efforts are null and void.
It appears that you have now violated Corbett’s Policy and Procedures regarding negotiations. These state that the School Board will handle negotiations unless they appoint a professional negotiator to do them for the board. Neither you, nor the Superintendent, have those qualifications. You were not appointed by the Board to do the work. (This also leads to some additional interesting questions and concerns regarding previous contracts and negotiations – since the Superintendent has been doing those in violation of your own policies since he became the Superintendent.)
In addition, you engaged an attorney to help you in these negotiations with the Charter and there was no approval for spending money by the school board. This also falls outside the scope of normal and accepted school business. The cost to the District for this course of action, chosen by you and the Superintendent and done without Board approval should now be your personal responsibility and not the taxpayers of this District.
Charter Director Robert Dunton made an offer to hold mediations and discussion in a public setting for all to attend, assuring transparency that is severely lacking on the District’s side. This course of action was not the one taken by you and the Superintendent and instead the process was cloaked in secrecy, leaving many wondering what kind of coercion may have been used to get the results we are now seeing.
There are examples where the Corbett School board has retroactively granted approval on actions taken, or rescinded policies when it has been pointed out we are violating them. I hope you do not plan to take these types of actions in this case. No board authorization was originally given to you and the Superintendent in this matter. It is proper protocol for the Board Chair to direct the appropriate district employee to respond with an answer, so please do so now. I am also asking that the explanation be sent in writing, either by e-mail or USPS.
PO Box 125
Corbett, OR 97019
Corbett School District Regular School Board Meeting
Wednesday May 21, 2014 7:00 PM
Notes taken by Karina Lande, who was in attendance and recorded the meeting.
* NOTE: This web site is provided as a courtesy for those interested in following along with the happenings in our district, especially those that live in Corbett. This site and these board notes are not meant to replace official CSD board meeting minutes, which are usually online 3-4 months from each meeting. Thank you to Karina Lande for sharing the below update from the above meeting. Audio is also available and will be added at a future time.
Superintendent’s contract terms and salary
The superintendents contract terms & salary negotiation/approval was removed from the agenda for the third month in a row. Todd Mickelson states this is his fault as he was assigned by Charlie to negotiate the contract and he has just been too busy with work & baseball to do so.
Victoria Purvine asked Charlie to speak to this; and stated her understanding is that they should, as a board whole, decide what their sending the negotiator in to discuss prior to negotiations.
Charlie responds, No we don’t do it that way, we send one member then they bring it back to the board and we can accept or reject it.
Victoria – but isn’t it normal that a board, before they send a negotiator out, to set what the perimeters are for the negotiations?
Charlie – My understanding is you can’t go into executive session to do that.
Victoria – I think we should discuss that before we negotiate, not after.
Charlie – well we’d have to have the discussions in open meeting then for what your talking about.
Victoria – Right
Charlie – I don’t think that’d be fair for the boards point of view it’s like showing your cards before you play.
Victoria – except for I don’t know what Todd is going to negotiate, we’re sending him in on behalf of the board without the board having any say in what’s going on with negotiations, and if we’re discussing it after, it’s a little too late, and it seems backwards to me.
Todd – My intent is to talk with Randy Trani and bring his ideas back and my thoughts on those, back to the board at which point either you agree or we suggest changes. Nothing is final until approved by the board.
Charlie – moving on…..
Meeting minutes 5 months behind now… ten plus meetings behind…
Meeting minutes from Jan 15 2014 were approved.
Victoria – I’m voting no because policy says we’re supposed to be getting the minutes the following meeting and we are 5 months behind at this point.
The other thing the policy says is we are supposed to be getting & approving all executive session minutes, which I have never seen after 3 years of being on the board. It appears that we have 0 executive session minutes. I’ve never seen them, we’ve never approved them but that is our policy, we’re supposed to approve them the same as regular board meeting minutes.
I’d also like to see on the next meeting agenda that we discuss starting transcription service. They can transcribe and have minutes up within 48hrs and it will take the burden off of Robin and everyone can know where we are.
Charlie – ok, next…..
Tom Layton speaking on behalf of 30 parents regarding coach Lovitt. My understanding of the situation is that this coach is wanting a full time teaching position (PE) along with coaching track & football. The district does not have a teaching position and the coach plans to go elsewhere to seek a teaching job with coaching. Tom spoke to the benefits of sports & physical education and feels the district should add PE at the HS school level and keep the coach in Corbett. Many students also spoke on behalf of coach Lovitt regarding the positive impact he has had in their lives.
(Will be interesting to see how this pans out as it appears a much loved coach & supporters are lobbying for a position to be created that doesn’t currently exist.)
May adjustment came in at $210,000 and will be shown at next meeting in the budget. Funds summaries updated. Will present supplemental budget in June. TSCC budget hearing next month.
Randy Trani Superintendents Report
That will be a topic for discussion starting next month.
Discussed field trips and listed off many and also stated we afford them because the adults donate their time. As an example; the big GS trip cost $250 gas for each bus but is reimbursed by the state at 70% for transportation. The costs for these trips are nothing for a district with a $13 million budget.
Motion to spend 100,000 on a lease to own LED light system
Next up was a motion to approve a contract to go into a lease to own option for LED lighting in the gyms.
Randy – Creative Lighting is the company. 2% interest charge. Advantage to lease is not much $ put up front. The guy comes to board meetings sometimes but I’m not going to mention any names. (A friend getting another job?)
Victoria- I went over this and it appears we don’t start actually saving money until month 61. When I was going over it, it looks like we’re paying $100,000 with savings of $64,000. But $23,000 of that is just a projected rebate so it looks like we only actually save $37,000.
This was discussed further regarding energy rebates and laws etc..
Victoria – what I was wondering is what would it cost if someone came in with proposals and we just bought them outright. A projected rebate is not a guarantee, we don’t know, so if we were to get bids and buy best offer outright verses a lease deal….
Worse case scenario we’re saving $37,000
Yes but we’re still paying $100,000 so I guess what’s the comparison to buying savings verses the leasing savings?
I think the lease to own option is a good deal, it’s fairly new technology and it’d be nice to have that guarantee cause if you go out & buy them & something goes wrong then your on your own.
Victoria – well you’d still get a warranty
Charlie – well with only 2% interest I think the lease option is the best. I’d rather do that then spend all the money upfront. I think there’s an inherent guarantee with a lease.
Todd- With interest we’re paying $100,000 so if we buy we’re spending $90,000 up front. I like the lease so we can obtain our cash for whatever may come up.
Charlie asks if Victoria is satisfied and she states she still suggests we get a couple more bids to look at.
Randy – I’ll try to put this into a different perspective, what we’re arguing about is $30,000 over a five year period and in that time this organization has $65 million dollars so what we’re talking about is a teeny tiny little bit.
Bob – so this isn’t even the correct document right?
Randy – no this is a sample, only the first page is Corbett specific (about lights) it’s a general lease sample document.
Bob – so how can we approve if this is not the correct lease?
Randy – um I guess you would just authorize me to sign the actual lease. This example is worse case of what we’d save.
Discussion continues around rebate amount assumptions and number calculations.
Bob – I’m in favor of LED lights, I think it’s a good way to go but I think we need to have estimates. These guys have only been contractors since end of March of this year. We should ask our electricians of their price. If something fails with the lease they’re not going to cover labor anyway so there’s not much different If we have an electrician purchase the lights & install them.
It’s agreed it’s not a pressing concern and they can get other prices/bids and revisit the discussion after that.
The following discussion is surrounding an action item as follows:
Resolved that the board confirm the inter-district transfer agreements under HB 2742 for approval to receive unlimited openings into the district and no denials for requests to release students out of our district 2014/2015
Randy explains this house bill gives multiple options to districts on how they let kids in or out. He states at any time the board can come back and set a limit after making it unlimited, or you set a limit by grade and then you have to set a date and do a lottery. These new changes in the laws are to prevent districts from hand selecting which kids they let out or in based on grades or needs etc..
He also states other districts are limiting the numbers of students they let out of their districts so we don’t need to worry about a flood of students coming into ours. We have situations where some charter kids didn’t get their applications in on time so those are the people we’re trying to help still get into Corbett.
Charlie – I’m not concerned about us losing kids, I’m concerned about which kids we get in if we get a flood that want in, so that’s not a problem.
Mark – relating to timing if there was a flood in & we say we’re taking “all” then we get all these applicants then a month later we have a board meeting and say “nah no, we were just kidding”?
Randy – yeah until the board has met the rules stand so if that did happen and a thousand turned in applications we would be stuck with those thousand. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, I think we’re talking more like 5 kids here, but I don’t have a crystal ball.
Victoria – I have a concern here, that is; we’re telling people we’re not planning on growing the district and then we’re going to add “unlimited” to the amount of students we’re going to allow in? In addition we’ve been told there’s like a 200 student waiting list, well then, we’re talking those 200 students not just 5. I think that we need to set a cap.
Randy – so we can easily set a cap but we want to be broad enough that the board doesn’t have to take individual action on them.
Victoria – to me it just doesn’t make sense, I mean you say one thing and then we turn around and do another. We need to be consistent in our message, either we’re going to grow the district or we’re not going to grow the district. We need to start making our judgements based on what we’re really going to do.
So if we’re going to open up inter district transfers to unlimited then me might as well just say “hey we are going to grow this district as big as we can get it”. Or hey ya know what we’ve been saying we’re going to cut it back so we need to set a limit. I think we’re sending mixed messages constantly from this board and it’s confusing the community.
(Lots of audience applause here)
Todd – questions if you can limit number you let in without limiting those that want out. Randy replies yes they are separate.
Randy – we can easily change the language and put a number in there, the question is what number?
Mark – well Randy I think you need to tell us what the number is to accomplish the objective of this resolution.
Randy – I would say it’s safe to go 2 per grade but I can almost guarantee if we do that we’ll have to revisit this because it’s not going to be even by grade. So if we get one more in a grade we’ll have to meet to approve.
Victoria – so then why don’t you tell us how many in each grade that missed the charter deadline because you obviously know the numbers.
Randy – I think 2 is the safe number.
The board agrees to change the unlimited verbiage to 2 students per grade to be admitted via a fair lottery for 2014/2015 All are ok with having to revisit on a case by case scenario beyond that.
Thankful this was not left as unlimited. Also note this does not affect the 530 spots already confirmed & added for next year, this is in addition to those.
Meeting closed with coming events.