▶️ Bend-La Pine hosts events to prepare students for life after high school

Be College Ready.

That’s the theme for a set of college kick-off events hosted by the Bend-La Pine School District. It kicked off Wednesday at Realms High School and will continue at other schools throughout the month.

The event helps seniors prepare for the college application process and learn more about the financial resources available.

“So we want to make sure that no matter what path they choose whether its a four-year university, a community college, a trade school that we can support them with the forms, the applications, the essays and the decision process and we can begin those conversations now,” said Stephen Duval, Director of College and Career Readiness for the school district.

The other events will be held:

  • Oct. 13 – Bend Tech Academy at Marshall High School 5:30 p.m. and Bend Senior High School, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 17 – Summit High School, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 24 – La Pine High School, 4 p.m. and Mountain View High School, 6 p.m.

Bend-La Pine Schools will also host a a college prep night soon for those who speak Spanish. Those details have yet to be announced.

RELATED: 3 Bend-La Pine teachers fired for COVID vaccine status: Hear their testimony

RELATED: Interested in joining Bend-La Pine school board? Info meeting on Thursday

 

▶️ 3 Bend-La Pine teachers fired for COVID vaccine status: Hear their testimony

Three Bend-La Pine School District teachers were fired Tuesday over failure to show proof of vaccination for COVID-19.

By a 6-0 vote of the school board, Mark Schulz, Zach Webb and Kelly Lundy were all terminated. 

The teachers were first placed on leave in October 2021. Tuesday’s termination hearing was set after the teachers failed to submit proof of vaccination or religious exemption by last fall’s deadline. 

Schulz taught at Mountain View High School for 26 years and Webb taught at La Pine Middle School for five years before they were placed on unpaid leave. Lundy, was a teacher at Ensworth Elementary and spoke to Central Oregon Daily News on the issue last year

RELATED: Parents caught off guard by teacher’s absence after vax refusal

Nearly 40 people were at the meeting holding signs and showing support for the educators during the emergency public hearing.

All three teachers and the district were given 10 minutes to provide testimony.

“This, from the district’s perspective, is strictly an issue of the district needing to follow the law,” said Chief Human Resources Officer for Bend-La Pine Schools, Steven Herron.

“I felt like their wasn’t enough time or effort put into researching that vaccine in order to be safe,” said Schulz during the testimony.

“So my only other option would be to submit a religious exception form,” said Webb on why he did not get an exception. “The only problem is I don’t have a religious conviction for this vaccine.”

“You might argue that I had a choice, but I was not given a choice,” said Lundy. “A choice would have been to say no. Yet here I am in a position before you because my choice was no.”

The hearing allowed the board to approve or deny superintendent Steve Cook’s recommendation to terminate the employees.

The school board voted unanimously to fire all three teachers.

“The regulations passed by OHA disallow us from having these teachers work in our classrooms,” said Board Chair for BLS Melissa Barnes Dholakia. “So, really we only had one choice, to uphold the recommendation.”

“I said make some decisions with your heart not according to rule and we never got that,” said Schulz. “We never got any backing from the district.”

At least one of the three teachers says they will appeal.

“I have nothing against the vaccine,” Webb told Central Oregon Daily News a few hours before the hearing. “Those who chose to do it, good for you. For me, it was all about not complying to the mandate that the government was holding over our heads.” 

Webb and Schulz say there were 25 staff members in a similar situation. But this hearing was called due to their classified status. 

“I think I’m ready for some closure, I’m ready to move on,” said Schulz before the hearing. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to address the board tonight. Not in a malicious way but just in truth and fact, and a chance to share from our angle a little bit, so I’m grateful for that.” 

Webb said before the hearing that he didn’t expect to get his job back.

“But what I do want is people to be aware that here we are a year later and yet here we are still dealing with these mandates that Kate Brown and OHA put into place,” said Webb.

Lundy provided Central Oregon Daily News with a statement before Tuesday’s hearing.

“I feel at peace going into this hearing. While it has taken the school district far too long to hold a hearing and terminate me, I have moved on with my life. The decision made tonight will not be life altering for me,” said Lundy.

 

▶️ Homeless crisis top-of-mind at Deschutes Co. Commissioner candidate forum

The Redmond Senior Center hosted a forum for the two candidates running for Deschutes County Commissioner Position 3 Tuesday.

Patti Adair, incumbent Republican commissioner, and Morgan Schmidt, Democratic commissioner candidate, both attended.

One of the hot topics of this election season? Homelessness. 

“We have a lot of people that are homeless that are doing terrible things. They’re breaking in, they have substance abuse disorders, they’ve got incredible mental illness, but the people we’re talking about really need to get out of homelessness, especially families with kids,” said Adair.

“The more we can offer people stable locations to be, whether that’s camping, safe parking, or low — shelters or transitional housing. The more they can have contact with service providers and get the help that they need,” said Schmidt.

RELATED: Bend’s unhoused community gets a voice at camping code roundtable

RELATED: After backlash, Redmond Safe Parking program makes changes for new site

Safe parking — a program that allows those currently without a home to park their car or RV in a safe place — has been an ongoing discussion in Redmond. How about the county as a whole?

“These people that are a part of their program really need the help. I am supportive of it,” said Adair.

“I fully support the safe parking programs that are going on both in Bend and now in Redmond,” said Schmidt. 

The Bend City Council is currently considering a camping code on city property. 

“We are actually working on an ordinance currently on what we want to do, but one thing I would make a comment on the Bend code: We need to add storage for those people that are part of a camping situation,” said Adair.

RELATED: Oregon governor’s race a ‘toss-up’ by national forecasters. They explain why.

And Schmidt adding that we need more shelters and safe locations for the homeless.

“I do believe that we need to have more options in place for people before we can really legally enforce people to move or continue going from place to place to place,” said Schmidt.

As fire season comes to an end, wildfires potentially being started by campers was a concern felt by many Central Oregonians.

“I was able to negotiate with the Forest Service and they put a fire extinguisher in each of the campgrounds in China Hat and in Sisters,” said Adair.

“The sooner we can come up with housing options for folks, even if that’s just a safe place to camp that’s low barrier, that’s a place they can go that’s designated, the sooner we’ll be able to have a lot more safety out in our rural lands and out in our forests,” said Schmidt.

Both candidates acknowledged homelessness is becoming a larger issue in Deschutes County, and both are wanting to assist those who have been displaced. 

▶️ Interested in joining Bend-La Pine school board? Info meeting on Thursday

An informational session is being held Thursday for people in learning more about what it takes to serve on the Bend-La Pine School Board. The district has a vacancy for the Zone 7 board position and is taking applications.

The informational session is set for 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the Hutchinson Room in the Deschutes Public Library’s Downtown Bend branch. Board Chair Melissa Barnes Dholakia will explain what is involved with being a board member, the time commitment involved and answer questions from attendees.

RELATED: Applications open for vacant Bend-La Pine School Board seat

RELATED: Redmond School District seeking applicants to fill board position

Applications are being accepted until October 11 at 4:00 p.m. 

Applicants must reside within a Deschutes County voting precinct, have resided within a Deschutes County voting precinct for at least one year, reside within Bend-La Pine Schools’ attendance area and be registered to vote.

Details of how to apply can be found on the Board of Directors’ webpage. applicants must share a resume, residency attestation form from the webpage and a letter of interest.

Finalists will be selected Nov. 8 and the final appointee will be sworn in Dec. 13. The term lasts through June 30, 2023, but the appointee may choose to run for the seat again in the May 2023 election.

▶️ Central Oregon high school football highlights for Week 5

It’s time for more high school football.

Below is a look at the scores from the fifth week of action for 2022 in Central Oregon, provided by ScoreStream.

A reminder that Bend-La Pine Schools have switched to an online ticketing only system this year. Cash will not be accepted at the gate. To purchase tickets you can click this link.
 
You can also find the full 2022 football schedules for Central Oregon High Schools at these links

Bend | Caldera | Crook County | Culver | La Pine | Madras | Mountain ViewRedmond | Ridgeview | Sisters | Summit

 

▶️ Opinions heard on psilocybin land use at Deschutes County public hearing

Deschutes County needs a plan if voters in the county affirm the decision to allow therapeutic use of psilocybin or magic mushroom therapy in November’s election.

The planning commission heard from several people Thursday night, from lawyers and students to veterans.

Comments will help decide what recommendations head to county commissioners.

“You’re putting all these limitations on all these what ifs, could be, that you yourself are saying you don’t even know,” said one commenter.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

“If the voters decided they want to have a program, we need to have some land use rules in place to govern that program. To figure out where things can go, can’t go, what it might look like on the ground,” said Senior Planner for Deschutes County Tanya Saltzman.

The Planning Commission is on a tight timeline to make a final recommendation to county commissioners, sending a proposal for time, place, and manner for psilocybin centers.

Close to a dozen people spoke Thursday, with similar concerns over the initial draft.

RELATED: Fate of psilocybin treatment in Central Oregon headed to ballot

RELATED: Several testify in support of psilocybin at Deschutes County hearing

A problem with time.

“Any regulations that don’t require overnight stays for those traveling alone are unreasonable,” said a commenter.

A problem with place.

“It’s the natural environment that can really help folks blossom through this experience and that non-natural setting can actually be detractive or harmful,” said another commenter.

A problem with manner.

“You are trying to plan for something that you don’t know what your chain of command is going to do, and that doesn’t sound reasonable. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes,” said another commenter.

The planning commission is leaving written opinion open for the record for a few weeks and the public hearing will be continued to October 13, which means that people can continue to submit written comments until then, and they will also have an opportunity to provide verbal testimony at that continuation. Then the planning commission will deliberate on a separate date and provide a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners, who will then hold their own hearing

▶️ Safe ways to walk and bike around town is focus of local advocacy group

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk or ride your bike to school, work or to go shopping? That’s one of the goals of the Deschutes County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, also known as BPAC.

The group held its annual summit on Thursday.

“There’s lots of data that shows students who walk or bike to school are able to focus better once they are in the classroom,” said Whitney Bennett from Commute Options.

Safe routes to schools were among many subjects discussed during the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s first summit in two years.

Transportation experts promoted the benefits of getting students who live close to schools to participate in walking school buses. Those are adult-guided groups of students who learn safe ways to get to school. 

“We’ve been working with Deschutes County on their Transportation System Plan which is updated every 10 years. Our goal is to make bicycling and walking a much bigger part of that,” said David Tomson, BPAC Chair. “The county has been very good to work with and I think that’s going to happen.”

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee’s mission is to promote and encourage safe bicycling and walking as a significant means of transportation in Deschutes County. Its goals include:

  • Engaging in ongoing conversations about e-bike rules and use
  • Participating in planning of transportation infrastructure projects
  • Community outreach

After the meeting, some BPAC members took a walking tour of Redmond’s recently developed Homestead Canal Trail.

“This connects up to the medical district,” said Mike Caccavano, BPAC member. “It was interesting as I come to check on things to see people that I knew using it at lunch time. For the neighbors and the bike pump track is the other recent addition. Just to see the amount of kids using that, it’s really impressive.”

The Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee says there’s much more that needs to be done to make walking, bicycling, and using transit safe, comfortable, and accessible for everyone.

▶️ Central Oregon high school football scores for Week 4

It’s time for more high school football.

Below is a look at the scores from the fourth week of action for 2022 in Central Oregon, provided by ScoreStream.

A reminder that Bend-La Pine Schools have switched to an online ticketing only system this year. Cash will not be accepted at the gate. To purchase tickets you can click this link.
 
You can also find the full 2022 football schedules for Central Oregon High Schools at these links

Bend | Caldera | Crook County | Culver | La Pine | Madras | Mountain ViewRedmond | Ridgeview | Sisters | Summit

 

▶️ Deschutes County discusses rural ADUs to fight housing crisis

As Deschutes County searches for ways to help with the housing crisis, one idea was discussed in a Public Hearing Thursday night. Senate Bill 391, passed in 2021, allows counties to have rural accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

“This is Deschutes County’s attempt to craft that state program into a local program,” said Deschutes County Associate Planner Kyle Collins.

Senate Bill 391 established baseline requirements including things like:

  • The lot must be two (2) acres or larger
  • One single-family dwelling must be sited on the lot
  • The ADU is limited to 900 square feet of usable floor space

RELATED: A guide to developing ADUs –Accessory Dwelling Units–available online

“The senate ultimately left those up individual jurisdictions on how they want to implement those, so that’s a portion of the public hearing process, for decision-makers, in this case, the planning commission to vet those and decide what they think the appropriate interpretations are,” said Collins.

Another portion of the hearing listened to public comments, both for and against.

“They increase sprawl, usually. They are far away from public services and amenities,” said Central Oregon Landwatch attorney Rory Ibell. “They tend to burden their inhabitants with long transportation costs and long car commutes that increase greenhouse gas emissions.”

“They don’t have the money, don’t have a place to leave, and it becomes very difficult and this is something that can help them as well,” said another public commenter.

Rural ADUs can only happen once a state wildfire risk map is complete and released. It was announced Thursday that a new draft of that map will be relased March 1, 2023 and a final version won’t come out until late 2023.

RELATED: New Oregon wildfire risk map is coming

Until then, the rural ADU timeline gets pushed back.

“No one would actually be able to apply and begin constructing an ADU until that map is finalized,” said Collins. “So, we are probably looking at late 2023 based on that timeline that has been presented by the Department of Forestry.”

The planning commissions allowed the continuation of written public comment until September 29 and will hold deliberations on October 13.

After deliberations, the planning commission will recommend proposed amendments for rural ADU’s to county commissioners.

For more information contact

Kyle Collins, Associate Planner

Kyle.Collins@deschutes.org

(541) 383-4427

▶️ Oregon math, reading scores drop during COVID; Local schools find positives

English, science and math proficiency scores in Oregon dropped dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s according to numbers released by the Oregon Department of Education Thursday morning looking at state assessment results.

School districts in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties did not buck the trend. Some were able to note achievements in specific categories and even, in some cases, finishing above state averages.

Oregon Department of Education officials say 2022 testing shows students who were already behind before the pandemic had the most learning loss but all children overall lost ground when compared to 2019 test scores.

Statewide, English Language arts proficiency dropped from 53.4% in the 2018-19 school year to 43.6% in 2021-22. Math fell from 39.4% to 30.4% and science dropped from 36.9% to 29.5%.

RELATED: Crook County’s Sara Johnson named Oregon Superintendent of the Year

RELATED: Central Oregon school districts see slight increase in student enrollment

Across grades three through eight, just 39% of students scored as proficient at reading and writing last spring, down from the previous low of 51%, and just 28% scored proficient in math, far below the previous low point of 40%.

In addition to the overall numbers, the report breaks the levels down by multiple demographic groups including grades, gender, race, students with disabilities and more.

Here is the breakdown of districts in Central Oregon. These numbers are for total population in all grades combined. If you want to see a school-by-school breakdown, we have a list of links at the bottom of this story.

Bend-La Pine

English Language Arts

  • 2018-19: 60.7%
  • 2021-22: 56.0% 

Math

  • 2018-19: 49.4%
  • 2021-22 44.9%

Science

  • 2018-19: 43.0%
  • 2021-22: 33.4%

Redmond

English Language Arts

  • 2018-19: 52.8%
  • 2021-22: 45.5%

Math

  • 2018-19: 42.2%
  • 2021-22: 32.8%

Science

  • 2018-19: 34.5%
  • 2021-22: 30.9%

Crook County

English Language Arts

  • 2018-19: 54.4%
  • 2021-22: 48.8%

Math

  • 2018-19: 38.0%
  • 2021-22: 32.6%

Science

  • 2018-19: 34.9%
  • 2021-22: 29.0%

Sisters

English Language Arts

  • 2018-19: 63.7%
  • 2021-22: 55.4%

Math

  • 2018-19: 42.5%
  • 2021-22: 34.4%

Science

  • 2018-19: 53.8%
  • 2021-22: 41.4%

Jefferson County 509J

English Language Arts

  • 2018-19: 41.2%
  • 2021-22: 30.1%

Math

  • 2018-19: 26.4%
  • 2021-22: 20.8%

Science

  • 2018-19: 16.4%
  • 2021-22: 15.2%

“The results were generally not surprising. They are also consistent with what we are seeing across the country,” Oregon Department of Education spokesman Marc Siegel told Central Oregon Daily News said in a statement.

“We do not know how the results break on socio-economic lines due to changes in program eligibility for free/reduced price lunch, which we have used as our ‘economically disadvantaged’ indicators,” Siegel added, “but we do know that students who were behind before the pandemic fell further behind and those who were advanced did not lose much ground.”

Bend-La Pine responds

The Bend-La Pine School District released this statement from Director of School Improvement Dave VanLoo.

“These statewide assessment results are one of many ways that our schools assess students academically and are fairly in line with what we anticipated. While we avoided steep declines seen in some districts across the nation, we did experience an overall dip. Likely these results are connected to the disrupted learning that students experienced during the pandemic, which included a variety of increased stressors both in and outside of school for families. Our teachers and schools are doing great work now to support learning for all students and move forward in a positive direction.”

Redmond responds

Redmond released a statement saying its results fall in line with state averages. It said the impacts of the pandemic — including remote learning and inconsistent attendance due to quarantines and illness — need to be taken into account.

It also said that the information has been unreliable for some groups due to lack of participation.

A 95 percent participation rate is ideal for getting accurate and usable data and an 80 percent participation rate is recommended as a minimum by Oregon Department of Education’s Technical Advisory Committee. Redmond School District ranged from a high of 91 percent participation in 3rd to 5th grade language arts to a low of 6.1 percent participation in 11th grade science,” the district said.

Redmond said it performed at or above the state average in 3-5 and 7-8 grade language arts and math and all grades tested in science.

Crook County responds

Crook County said the results show its students are above the state average in 14 of 20 categories.

“We’re now above the state average in a number of categories, particularly in English Language Arts. We still have a ton of work to do. We’re not satisfied with where our math’s at. Until every student is achieving on grade level, we’re not going to be satisfied,” said Dr. Joel Hoff, Assistant Superintendent of the Crook County School District.

Crook said much of its gains happened at the elementary school level and were most significant in English Language Arts and Math. it noted that 4th and 7th graders were 10% above the state average in English and 4th graders were 9% above in math.

Even with that, Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said more needed to be done.

“We’re better now at tracking students, knowing where the gaps exist and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each student. Our next big step is to give more individualized attention to students who need interventions. It’s our responsibility to find those barriers and respond to the uniqueness of each child,” Johnson said in a statement.

Links to results

English Language Arts

Math

Science