Give new senior center director a chance

In response to the letter by Daniel Klee in the Aug. 13 issue of the News-Times: If Mr. Klee had spent five minutes in conversation with Raean Johnston, he would have realized his concerns about her qualifications were unfounded. Her entire working career has been devoted to enriching the lives of senior citizens. She has years of experience working with seniors, employees, and volunteers beginning in 1974 at the Masonic Home and ending in retirement as administrator of Jennings McCall.

Her lifetime of work clearly demonstrates her commitment, advocacy, and enthusiasm for improving the quality of life for an aging population in Forest Grove, including delivering services in a caring and harmonious environment.

The Forest Grove Senior Center is fortunate she was willing to come out of retirement to share her skills with them. Before you judge Raean Johnston, why not give her an opportunity to make a difference here, as she has for so many others?

Cathy Joeckel

Forest Grove

Forest Grove schools are considered leading edge

There was a letter submitted to the press recently expressing one person’s concerns about education in the Forest Grove School District (Letters, News-Times, Aug. 13 issue). I would like to address some misconceptions I think should be clarified for the district’s patrons.

The closing of Gales Creek School was done primarily to reduce administrative costs so more teachers could be retained to keep class size down during times of significant budget reductions. At the time of the closing, I don’t recall any serious discussion as to when it could be reopened. However, the bond projects that had been identified and included in our recent bond have been accomplished at Gales Creek anticipating its eventual reopening when enrollment and budget allow. As to the deed restrictions on the Gales Creek School property, there are two parcels. The restrictions are only mentioned on the original deed to the smaller portion at the south end of the site.

In addition to reduced budgets, we were facing a significant reduction in student populations across the district, requiring further reductions to our budget. These cuts required us to have higher student-to-teacher ratios, additionally lower student population freed up classroom space throughout the district. Thus the district could function without the expense of keeping the Gales Creek facility open.

Currently, the student population has started to increase and the state has put more money into the state school budget, but this currently is not enough to restore all that was lost during the budget cut years.

It is quite true that Gales Creek students now have a longer ride, but it is not true that this causes the consumption of more fuel and thus more pollution. Why? Because all of our buses are housed in Forest Grove, so they have to travel this distance regardless.

The school district does in fact use phonics. Phonics is a part of the Pearson reading adoption that we made. While not all students respond the same to educational strategies, the Pearson program we adopted gives our teachers more options than phonics alone, allowing teachers to address specific learning styles.

Our schools all have data teams that constantly review each student’s performance and their teachers dedicate their teaching efforts to address each student’s needs. Yes, our scores need further improvement. The school board and the administration agree we need to make every effort to get our kids at grade level as early in their school careers as possible. Our district is considered to be a leading edge district across the state and even nationally with our reforms and accomplishments.

Our superintendent is considered to be one of the best and most progressive in this state. Our community is very fortunate to have her leadership.

Fred Marble

Forest Grove

Fred Marble is a longtime member of the Forest Grove School Board.

New director appreciates kindness and support

On a positive note, I have been received as the new executive director of the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center with such kindness and support by the staff, volunteers and patrons of the center and by those of you out in the community. I thank you all.

The center’s recent “Paws in the Grove” event was a huge success due to the many volunteers and the community’s participation. I want to thank the wonderful Burghardt family for their tireless efforts again this year. This is a very giving family and strong supporter for the center. We here at the center are very fortunate to have them.

On behalf of the Forest Grove Senior Center, I want to thank Robin Nere, Tim Timmons and the many board members who gave up their Saturday to help us out.

Raean Johnston

Executive Director, Forest Grove Senior & Community Center

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