▶️ Crook County to launch new “theme” elementary; long-time local educator to lead effort

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Jim Bates has worked as a Crook County educator and principal for 25 years.

In September, he’s continuing his journey at a new elementary school.

“I have some skills associated with opening a new school and I am thrilled to be able to help,” said Bates.

Bates will be principal at “Pioneer South,” the tentative name for a new “theme” elementary with a curriculum centered on art, technology, and adventure learning.

“Barnes Butte Elementary and Crooked River Elementary have continued to enroll new students throughout the school year,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson, noting that enrollment increased 5% across the district. “We need a long-term plan, and a theme school will provide an opportunity for families to choose to have their children attend a small, very special and unique elementary school and will reduce enrollment at our other elementary schools.”

The theme-based school will likely enroll 240 kindergarten through 4th-grade students the first year.

In early spring, the planning committee will provide applications to families who are interested in having their children attend the new school.

It’s an addition Bates believes Crook County desperately needed.

“We’re getting full. And we have a need for more space, so we can address that,” Bates said. “And then also recognize that we want to expand choices for parents with where they have their student attend school, and do both at the same time. So I’m really excited about that.”

Miranda Robinson is a parent who admires Bates for his compassion.

So much so, she plans to send her 6-year-old son Gavin to the school Bates will be running.

“He thinks about what the kids need, and what they’re lacking and what’s lacking in the schools,” Robinson said. “And he wants to try to bring it, think of all these ideas to put in the school to help our kids better.”

Bates says the school’s approach will play a vital role in future careers, and he’s excited to be a part of it.

“What do students need? What are they headed towards with new jobs and careers? And we want to adapt to that and contribute to it. Having this theme school will give us an opportunity to do that.”

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