Ashland School District is banking that volunteers will help fill gaps left by this spring’s sweeping budget cuts.

Ashland School District is banking that volunteers will help fill gaps left by this spring’s sweeping budget cuts.

Officials have created a new volunteer section on the district’s Web site, www.ashland.k12.or.us, as they try to streamline the process and attract more unpaid assistants.

“It was a response to the budget reduction and we were realizing one of the assets we have in this town is an incredibly capable and supportive community,” said Michelle Zundel, who organized the effort as the district’s director of education.

Due to the cuts, Zundel’s position was eliminated and she was named principal of Bellview Elementary School for the coming year.

The district’s $22 million budget for the coming school year is 14.8 percent lower than the 2008 school year’s. In total, 56 positions were cut as the district grappled with declining state funds for education due to the recession.

Zundel recruited Marigny Goodyear, whose daughter attends Walker Elementary School, to help manage the volunteer recruitment effort. Goodyear, who operates a successful art Web site, b-native.com, e-mailed teachers, librarians and clerks to get a list of volunteer opportunities.
Now, Goodyear is hoping community members will log on and help out.

The volunteer opportunities range from one-time chores, such as helping a teacher move into a classroom, to regular positions, such as tutoring elementary students in math.

To access the list, log on to the district’s Web site and click on “Volunteer Opportunities.” The site outlines the process of becoming a volunteer.

Volunteers must pass background checks, unless they are helping out in their own child’s classroom, Zundel said.

Goodyear, who moved to Ashland from New Orleans last year, said she was inspired to help out as she sat through School Board meetings earlier this year and learned about the proposed budget cuts.

“At one of these meetings it occurred to me that one thing that Ashland has, that New Orleans was so lacking, was that parents are so willing to get involved,” she said.

“I thought maybe if people could plan for it, then maybe they would be more willing to sign on for these programs where there are needs.”

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.