EUGENE, Ore. - Teachers and staff gathered at South Eugene High School on Thursday to hear from the new man in charge.
Dr. Sheldon Berman, the new Eugene 4J School District superintendent, is in his first year as the district's chief executive.
"I'm looking forward to what Dr. Berman has to say to my staff and to the 4J staff, said Larry Soberman, the Twin Oaks school principal.
"I think everybody is looking forward to his opening remarks," said Craig Smith, chair of the Eugene 4J School Board.
After a spring of budget cuts and school closures followed by a summer of contract negotiations, Berman said teachers will be working in a "climate of constraints" and that collaboration will be imperative.
"It's all about collaboration. Working together, thinking what we are together, and having a shared sense of norms and values that support that," Berman said.
Berman acknowledged all the empty seats in the auditorium, seats that were once occupied by staff who were laid off as the district grappled with a multi-million dollar hole last winter.
"It is really sad to see the sort of de-funding of public education and that does compromise the work that we're able to do for kids," Berman said. "And one of my roles is to help them to see that the work we do, we're doing, is meaningful, it's important and that it's worth the investment.
Berman's words were well-received.
"It's a lot of ground to cover," said Monroe Middle School teacher Tom Di Liberto. "It's difficult to cover everything I'd like to hear, but for the most part, I was satisfied."
"Over all, I think it's going to be a great school year, in spite of the fact we're working with financial constraints," said Doris Chastain, a Holt Elementary instructional assistant.