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Kathleen Rodden-Nord, Ph.D.

JUNCTION CITY SCHOOLS UPDATE: Continued from front page

Parent-Teacher Conferences were held May 11 from 4:30 to 7:30pm, approximately 95 students were represented by parents at the conference.  Slides from Linda Jackson’s digital photography class and photos taken by Liz Henderson’s yearbook students were presented and guests enjoyed cookies and juice courtesy of Leslie Lucir’s Baking and Pastry class.

Spring Athletics have met with great success this season.   JC Softball won its first league title in more than 25 years and hosted a first round playoff game in the State Tournament on May 24th. JC Baseball won a play-in game at Molalla in extra innings for a State Tournament berth last week as well. Tennis sent two doubles teams to the State Tournament at Oregon State, and Lady Tigers Maddy Melbrecht and Gabby Martinez took 2nd place in state in doubles!  16 Tigers represented JC in Track & Field at the OSAA 4A State Championships at Hayward Field.  On the women’s side, Shayla Solomon took 2nd in the 800 meters.  Our men’s team also performed very well, with Brandon Land earning a second place in the high jump and 7th overall in the triple jump.  Jake Rogers took 5th place in the 200 meters. And for the first time in a long time, our Tigers earned a State Championship title when our 4 x 100 meter team- comprised of Josiah Starr, Tanner Crane, Brandon Land and Jake Rogers took first place in that event. 

Also, a reminder that commencement for the class of 2017 will take place on Saturday, June 10th, at 2 PM at Bill Peden stadium.  Our board members are asked to let JCHS head secretary Sonya Bennett, and high school registrar Alison Hellwege, know if they are able to attend.  JCSD staff are invited to sit in a special staff seating section on the field, and to give their well wishes to the many students whose lives have been touched by your work.  Please join us!

At Oaklea, we started the month of May with a shout-out to our teachers during their Appreciation Week.  We celebrated with loads of calories: staff breakfast made by the office team, two lunches put on by the Oaklea Parent Group, and other treats to express our appreciation for the amazing work our teachers do for kids; we have deep appreciation for all our Oaklea teachers, and we extended this thanks to the entire staff as well.

This month, most of our students completed an Academic Wellness survey coordinated by the U of O.  This survey will give us essential data uncovering some of the barriers students face in regard to engagement in classes, attendance, connections to school, and academic achievement.  Several of our teachers have asked to join the data analyses process with the university.  This work will be done throughout the summer and into the fall. The information gleaned- particularly from Oaklea’s 8th graders- will be very helpful for high school class forecasting, and will also be of value for those who participate in the Summer Bridge Program to ease their transition into high school.

Our 6th grade students just completed their 15th annual trip to Newport for oceanography study, an Aquarium visit, and bonding time as a class.  We would like to thank the numerous parent volunteers who joined us for chaperoning during the trips.  Our 8th grade band students are off to Seattle today and tomorrow with Mr. McReynolds and volunteer supporters, including board chair Wendy Waddell and her husband Matt.

Last week, five Division 1 athletes from the U of O came to Oaklea to talk with students about such topics as goal setting, the importance of doing well in middle and high school, developing respect for one another, and things kids can be doing to prepare for college.  We had two football players, a golfer, and two women's lacrosse athletes with us.

Last Thursday, May 25th, many of our 8th graders stayed after school for the annual "Welcome to JCHS" event.  High school club advisors and coaches set up tables in the cafeteria to introduce the opportunities our incoming freshmen will have at JCHS.  Thanks to Athletic Director Craig Rothenberger and high school staff for coming over to Oaklea, and also bringing ice cream to welcome the students.

Finally, Oaklea’s report would not be complete without extending praise for our Oaklea track coaches and volunteers.  1/6 of our student body competed in track this season, and the both girls’ and the boys’ teams finished 3rd in District.  Most importantly, Jeff Starr, Chris Surface, and Shannon McAdams are teaching and modeling the core values student-athletes will need to thrive at the high school and beyond.  We are so fortunate to have such fabulous role models for our students!

May started out with Teacher Appreciation Week, and it was clear that Territorial Teachers are truly appreciated.  In addition to an “appreciation station” where students were given the opportunity to write notes of appreciation throughout the week, teachers were on the receiving end of fun and yummy treats each day of the week. They also received beautiful potted flowers from the Territorial Parent Association and enjoyed a catered lunch courtesy of the classified staff.  It was really heart-warming to see the Territorial community bless our teachers in this way.

State assessments for Territorial 3rd-5th grade students wrapped up mid-month and Easy CBM Spring Benchmark assessments are well underway.   These Easy CBM assessments are particularly useful as they provide data related to student learning and growth in the areas of reading and math over the course of a school year.  Information from the assessments are used to inform instruction, including identification of areas of focus for whole group lessons as well as targeted interventions for individuals and small groups.

Garden Club and LEGO Club picked up again this month.  Both programs are supported by grant funds and dedicated volunteers, providing outstanding after school enrichment opportunities for our students. 

Fifteen 4th and 5th grade students, led by Music teacher Amy Burrows, performed a song on their ukuleles at the Empty Bowls fundraiser held at JCHS on May 3rd.  What a fun event to be a part of! The showcase of talent from each building and as well as from a number of HS programs was inspiring.
The annual TPA-sponsored track and field day was held on May 20th.  Students competed in a variety of events, 50-yard dash, hurdles, long jump, relay, softball throw and cross country to name a few.  The weather was perfect and a good time was had by all. 

Territorial’s “Barn Raising” Celebration took place May 23rd to celebrate the construction of our new, bond-funded, covered play area at TES.  The event kicked off with an all-school performance of some old timey tunes, followed by square dancing to a live band and a number of fun western-theme activities including stick horse races, cowboy boot bean bag toss, branding and lassoing activities and of course a chow station with healthy snacks for all.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and the Barn Raising celebration was a great success!

Also on the horizon at Territorial- preparations are underway for Outdoor School; our theme this year is “Long Ago at Lutherwood”.  Students in preschool through grade 5 will spend June 12th -16th participating in fun outdoor learning activities at Camp Lutherwood.  Territorial will wrap up the school year with an all school assembly and 5th grade transition ceremony on June 21st.

At Laurel, “JOY” has been identified as one of the school community’s core values, and we are keeping this value in the forefront of our minds. As we plan for a strong conclusion to the school year, there are many fun activities coming up and a number of exciting events that took place earlier this month.

Recently, Laurel hosted a new Kinder Kickoff activity to reach out and connect with the parents of our incoming kindergarten students. Families were invited to come to Laurel and find out more about our awesome Kindergarten program.  Incoming students and their parents got a chance to:
Meet and talk with kindergarten teachers.
Visit a kindergarten classroom, enjoy a snack, and participate in a hands-on activity.
Learn how to prepare their child for a successful kindergarten experience.
Discuss firsthand what it is like to be part of our Laurel community.
Learn about all the different supports available at Laurel.
Enjoy a bus ride around the neighborhood.

We had more than 40 families show for this event!  Parents were very appreciative of this opportunity and enjoyed the event and all the information they received. The bus ride was a hit for children as well as their parents. The staff members who helped with the event were pleased with the turnout and are already looking forward working with these children and their families. We hope that many of these children will be participants in our KITs (Kids in Transition to School) program as well.

May was Spirit Month at Laurel and students and staff had a lots fun with May’s Spirit Fridays. Hat day, Dress Like an Adult Day, and Twins Day are some of the themes we chose this year. The Laurel staff decided to put a spin on things and made a “Dress Like a Kid” day! You could hear the laughter across the halls as students saw their teachers dressed like kids.

The Laurel Parent Group hosted an awesome School Carnival a couple of weeks ago. Children and their families enjoyed playing super fun games and winning fabulous prizes. Everyone went home with a prize and the event created lots of positive energy to get us through the rest of the year. A huge thank-you goes out to the dedicated parents and staff members who organized this event and those who volunteered to run stations.

In addition to wonderful teachers and an awesome parent group, Laurel is also home to many, many hard-working and dedicated classified staff- including secretaries, custodians, food service personnel and instructional assistants. Recently, Alan Cook- who teaches fourth grade at Laurel- sent out an email of appreciation for Laurel IAs. In his shout out, he said “the wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring to the table every day is invaluable to our community” and “One example that I’ve recently seen is the changes in the lunchroom. Coming up with programs and incentive plans on their own to make the lunchroom a more pleasant place was amazing!”

Smarter Balanced testing at Laurel is almost completed. Things have gone very smoothly, and students have done a great job persevering and demonstrating their knowledge of the standards. Laurel teachers are reporting that- contrary to what they expected- standardized testing has been a less stressful process than in years past, and they also felt the students struggled less with the technology part of this testing experience. Thanks to Tom in our assessment department, Bob and Laci in our tech department, our testing proctors, and all our Laurel staff for making sure that student assessments are completed without a hitch.

In terms of upcoming activities, Laurel Music Performances were held Monday through Thursday of last week.  So many parents and community members joined all of Laurel’s students and our music specialist, Deborah Adams, in enjoying our spring music performances which took place in the gym at Junction City High School.  Our student-musicians practiced for these performances for months, and those who attended said these were the best elementary music concerts ever.  

This week, May 30-June 2nd, is safety week at Laurel. We are re-teaching and practicing all the safety drills we have taught all year long. We will perform lockout/lockdown procedures, earthquake and evacuation drills, as well as a fire drill. Each drill will be preceded by a review of the procedures with staff and students.

Next week, June 5-9 will be swim week for Laurel.  Swim week is probably students’ most favorite week of the year. Students will be going to the community pool next door to learn water safety and to swim with their class for 30 minutes each day. Each year, students look forward to having loads of fun, soaking up some sun and making memories that will last a lifetime.  The end of the school year will be here before we know it!

I am so excited that we are getting ready to break ground on the new High School addition!  An invitation to the ground-breaking event- set for next Wednesday, June 7th, at 1:30 PM- is attached to this update and invitations are being mailed to local dignitaries today.

Recently, I attended a State Superintendents’ Meeting in Salem. We heard from House Speaker Tina Kotek and others, who shared that while the state revenue outlook is improving, much of that additional revenue will likely be returned under the Kicker.   It sounds as though the budget number our District landed on for budget planning purposes- 8.0B- is the right number to plan for at this time.  Speaker Kotek did, however, offer hope that the legislature is continuing to explore ways to get to the K-12 current service level budget required funding level of 8.4.  She expressed that the 2017-19 K-12 funding level will be set before the legislature recesses at the end of June; the delay presents a challenge to most of Oregon’s K-12 public school districts however, as many of us will need to begin to put the wheels in motion on staffing reductions and 2017-18 calendar adjustments before the end of June.

Speaker Kotek also shared her opinion that there will be “some’ funding for implementation of Measure 98 in the next biennium; the best guess we have at this time is that the funding would provide our District between $200K-$300K for the biennium to help us update and expand career-technical education programs, expand access to college-level courses, and prevent students from dropping out so that we can keep them on track to graduate from high school.

At this point, our District has a “Measure 98 Workgroup” comprised of a number of high school teachers and administration to plan our District’s Measure 98 program so that our funding priorities are clearly identified if and when the funding comes through.  Given the 3 areas that must be addressed in our plan, we are considering some funding for our Summer Bridge Program (keeping students on track to graduate), some funding for the Willamette Promise and College Now programs in order to expand access to college-level courses such as Computer Science, College Biology and Physics, and Forensic Sciences.  In the CTE domain, we are exploring adding courses to our Engineering Technology Program of Study, and developing an Agricultural and Environmental Studies CTE area as well.  Down the road a few years, we also hoping to offer a strand of courses that would support “growing our own” teachers from our current high school students.

Now, turning to news from the May 22nd board meeting, the meeting began with special recognition for an exceptional volunteer:  Darcey Edwards. Darcey has been lead organizer of the JCHS Tiger Auction for the last 3 years, and the event has grown and flourished thanks to her leadership and organizational skills.  Darcey moved the event from the high school gym to Shadow Hills Country Club, and as a result, the event has been wildly successful.  Our high school athletic director, Craig Rothenberger, nominated Darcey for this award, and his letter of commendation will be included when the board approves the official May 2017 meeting minutes.

Another long-overdue commendation was offered to Chris Meyer, the District’s Facilities Director.  Since we hired Chris as our Facilities Director in 2005, he has saved our District literally hundreds of thousands of dollars due his tremendous expertise in heating and cooling systems and his hands-on approach in taking care of every maintenance issue he can before contracting out for specialized services.

Our administrators and staff really appreciate Chris’s responsiveness.  As an example, we recently had a district-wide power outage; shortly thereafter, we had to evacuate Oaklea due to a burning smell in the Columbia hallway.  Chris responded immediately, and worked with the JC Fire Department and PD to identify the source of the problem- which was an HVAC motor that had overheated due to a faulty surge protector.  In addition to being part of the immediate response, Chris has expedited the replacement of the motor for this unit so that Oaklea will be without air conditioning for as little time as possible. 

Chris routinely goes above and beyond the call of duty- in addition to all the extra demands on his time given our bond projects, he puts in whatever time is needed to get maintenance work done in a way that doesn’t inconvenience staff or interrupt students’ learning. For example, he was here for almost an entire day two Saturdays ago, working to identify a major leak- which was discovered to be under the Pitney Center.  The leak has caused our water consumption- and city water bills- to skyrocket.  Now that he knows where the leak is, he has a plan in place to get the issue resolved- again at a time that doesn’t impact students or staff, but does mean that he will be working instead of enjoying an upcoming weekend.  We are really, really fortunate to have a Facilities Director as hard-working and multi-talented as Chris Meyer.

We had a special guest, Senator James Manning, in attendance at the board meeting and he offered some insights into what has been happening at the Capital Building in Salem. The board and those in attendance very much appreciated the Senator making the time to come and introduce himself; we also were grateful for his interest in what is happening in our District, and his desire to represent us well.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee Members (CAC) Ken Bells and Judy Kazmierkoski.  That team provided highlights from the May CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. They also shared that the CAC is working with the District on an FAQ sheet that will answer questions that patrons may have about the bond, financial issues related to facilities, and specifics of our bond projects.  There also is a special email address, bondprojectsqa@junctioncity.k12.or.us to which questions can be directed.  The FAQ will be updated often and will be posted on the District’s website. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on April 24th, the minutes of the Special Board Meeting of May 8th, and the Budget Committee Meeting of May 8th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also accepted the resignations of Dustin Embers (special education teacher at Oaklea), Nathan Burke (8th grade science teacher at Oaklea) and Danielle Ferrell (grade 2 teacher at Laurel).  They also acted to approve several policies, the 2017-18 school year calendar, and the superintendent evaluation form.    

With respect to discussion items, the board received “Annual Reports” from the principals of Laurel and Territorial Elementary Schools.  Copies of their presentations will be attached to the official minutes once approved.

The board also heard from Ron Volner of Building Blocks Childcare who addressed the board about the District’s materials distribution policy.   Currently, the board’s “Commercial Advertising” and “Materials Distribution” policies do not allow for our students to be used as agents to advertise for for-profit businesses or for groups that are not directly related to our District’s educational mission.  Public, non-profit groups (the Oregon Health Authority, Lane County Mental Health, the City, Junction City Athletics, etc.) are occasionally afforded the opportunity for their materials to be sent home individually with students. Other non-profit groups, for-profit businesses, religious organizations, and others are offered the opportunity to have their flyers in our schools and available for parents to review and pick up.  We also ask principals to periodically notify parents via their school newsletters that this kind of information is available in their school offices.  An initial review of policies and practices in other neighboring districts and districts throughout the state show that our district’s policies are very much aligned with other districts. 

Mr. Volner took exception to the District’s distribution of a flyers from the City’s Community Services Program that include information about the City’s camps available during breaks and summers; Mr. Volner expressed that he believes the City is in competition with his business interest (he is offering summer camp opportunities as well) and did not think it was fair for the District to distribute materials for the City’s program in a way that differs from how other flyers are shared with interested parents.  The board members present listened to Mr. Volner’s concerns and directed that the schools should only share materials regarding the City’s upcoming summer camps in the same way that information from other entities is shared, and not send them home individually with students. 

Next, Ronda Wheadon and Steve Jones shared information on the JC Online Options program that the District is developing. The District has received considerable interest from families who are currently home-schooling, or using online charter schools or private schools.  The board received more specific information about how our program could be implemented to serve students from kindergarten through grade 12, and how by enrolling in the District’s program, students could have a lot of flexibility to use both online options and participate in traditional classes at our “brick and mortar” schools.  The board affirmed their support for the program, and directed that the planning process continue so that we can implement the program in the 2017-18 school year.

Finally, just a reminder that June 19th, 20th and 21st will now be school days for students in grades K-11, due to all of the inclement weather closures we had this year.  Graduation will still take place at Peden Stadium on Saturday, June 10th at 2 PM.  Also, if you are a parent of an incoming kindergartener, please be sure to contact the head secretary at both Territorial and Laurel to get information on kindergarten registration requirements and the summer Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program.

Have a wonderful week!

Spring term is in full bloom in the District; the JCHS women’s tennis team enjoyed some beautiful weather in Roseburg this past weekend and I hope that you all enjoyed some sunshine and relaxation as well! Things are buzzing around the District, and there are many school and community activities planned in the coming weeks- you can read all about them below (and get information from last Monday’s board meeting too).

Spring is an extremely busy time at JCHS!  Last Monday, April 24th The Top Tiger Pageant- formerly known as Mr. Tiger- took place in the West Wing Gym. The Pageant marked the conclusion of many months of preparation and fundraising to benefit JC Local Aid, the Children’s Miracle Network, and the JCHS Associated Student Body. Many thanks to volunteer staff advisors, Liz Henderson and Courtney Madsen and to the many already-super-busy students who have given so much of their time and effort for this important community service project.

On Tuesday, April 25, JCHS staff and administrators met with parents and incoming freshmen to get the forecasting process rolling and provide a sense of student life at JCHS. Forecasting for returning students is in full swing, and seniors are beginning to work on final checklists prior to commencement on June 10.  I have asked the JCHS administration and counseling team to work with Department Chairs to identify possible new courses that could engage students and increase their awareness of possible careers and fields of study after high school.  Some of the courses we may explore offering include soil sciences, watershed management, computer sciences, business management and leadership, advanced book-keeping, 3D animation and modeling and other Engineering Technology types of courses.  We also are working with the Lane ESD and several institutions of higher education to develop a “grow your own teacher” program, where our high school students could get a taste of teaching as a career- this program likely will not be ready for launch until the 2018-19 school year.

On Wednesday, April 26, The documentary film, Voices of Hate – Voices of Hope, was shown in the West Wing Gym. The film is a time capsule of events at JCHS following last November’s presidential election. The video relies heavily on student voices to recall their experiences and perspectives as a portal to promote constructive ongoing dialogue to help bridge our cultural gaps.  The entire student body sat in rapt attention as the film was shared; following the film, students had the opportunity to share observations, feelings, ideas, and hope for the future of their school. The comments reflected a range of experiences and ideas, but they all held in common our students’ commitments to treat each other respectfully, and to work together to create a cohesive and positive school culture.  This documentary also may be featured at the JCHS Social Justice League’s annual film festival, which is planned for later this spring.

Thursday, April 27, JCHS students were entertained by the participants in the 2017 Talent Show. Many thanks to JCHS music teacher Mara Liechty and media specialist Linda Jackson who served as the point people for this annual showcase.

This week is prom week, and JC Fire and Police will stage an assembly tomorrow (Tuesday, May 2nd) which depicts the scene of an accident involving an impaired student driver and innocent victims on Tuesday. Prom will be held down in Creswell at Emerald Valley Golf Club on Saturday, May 6, under the theme Enchanted Garden.  We wish our students a safe, memorable, and magical prom!

Last week, students had the opportunity to meet with personnel representing careers in CTE from Johnson Crushers, Peterson-Pacific, Seneca Sawmill, and Ideal Steel. This is the second such group to engage in conversations making the high school-to-careers connection this year.  Coming up this Wednesday, May 3rd, Career and Technical Educator Mike King will be taking a group of up to 20 10th through 12th graders on a tour of 3 manufacturing facilities, including Farwest Steel, Precision Machine, and Bulk Handling Systems.  Interested students can reach out to Mr. King or College and Career Center Coordinator Liz Bolton to obtain a flyer and permission slip so that they can participate.  Finally, JCHS math teacher Becci Buenau is taking the lead on getting certified to teach a College Now- level Computer Science course (CS160). She also is working Connected Lane County and the Lane STEM workgroup to take up to 20 interested students on a tour of local technology companies, tentatively scheduled for May 18th.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held at Junction City High School on May 11 from 4:30 to 7:30pm.  As we see more lines painted around the JCHS campus marking the shape of construction to come, there’s a buzz about the fast approaching construction project in anticipation of the groundbreaking ceremony.  The date for the ceremony is TBD, but there are several large “project boards” making their way around the District and at Community meetings and events that are really starting to get everyone excited to see the JCHS addition take shape.

The 10th annual Territorial Talent Show was held at Junction City High School on April 20th.  Students, alumni, and even some parents demonstrated that Territorial truly does have TALENT.  Individuals and groups entertained the capacity crowd with singing, dancing, piano playing, and joke-telling in addition to demonstrations of soccer and tumbling skills to name a few.   A heartfelt “thank you” to parent volunteers, Sara Probert, and Steph Van Hecke both of whom worked tirelessly to support our students with practice time and coaching this past month.
Staff development activities in April were focused on science, specifically identifying and organizing existing materials and resources in a way that will allow for their use and accessibility as we transition to Next Generation Science Standards and related curriculum going forward.  “Kudos” to Pam Nelson and Elyse Elder for their work on the Science Curriculum Adoption Committee this year; we will continue to draw on their passion and expertise in this area for years to come.

Territorial’s Kindergarten Round–up and Open House took place on April 13th.  Ten prospective kindergarten students and families toured the school, checked out the classroom, and met the kindergarten staff.    Each kindergartener left with a backpack filled with fun summer activities, school supplies, and a copy of Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.  These books were generously provided by The Eugene Airport Rotary Club again this year.  Additionally, a representative of the KITS program was on hand to provide a brief presentation and invite parents to sign up to receive more information about Kindergarten readiness activities scheduled to take place in Junction City this summer and fall.  More information on the upcoming KITS program can be found on our District website.

Last Wednesday, April 26th, was Administrative Professionals Day and the Territorial School Community recognized and honored our school secretary, Terrie McFadden, for her contributions throughout the year.  There truly are no words to adequately describe the impact of this Administrative Professional on the Territorial School Community.  Filling multiple roles from Head Secretary, to School Nurse, Stand-in Administrator, Counselor or Custodian, Terrie is called on to do it all and she does it with a smile and a genuine love for the students, staff, and families she serves.  In addition to these many hats, Terrie brings a passion for nature education to her position at Territorial.  She was the impetus behind the formation of our School Garden Club; she took the lead on identifying curriculum, recruiting volunteers and accessing necessary resources to provide this outstanding after-school program for our students each fall and spring.  Additionally, Terrie became involved in planning and operating the every-other-year Outdoor School Program at Territorial as a parent volunteer when her own children were TES students.  Now- as a staff member- this is another area in which Terrie steps up and leads, by planning, organizing, mobilizing and directing staff, volunteers and community resources as the Outdoor School Director.  Suffice it to say, all those associated with Territorial Elementary recognize Terrie as the heart of our small school.

Speaking of Outdoor School, planning for this year’s programming is well underway; Territorial’s Outdoor School will be held at Camp Lutherwood from June 12th – 16th.  Many hands-on activities focused on nature, conservation, recreation and history are planned for students from preschool-5th grade.  Students will begin a series of preparation activities next month, meeting in assigned groups with their clan leaders.  All TES parents are encouraged to volunteer to assist with Outdoor School activities and are reminded of the need to complete a background check through the district prior to May 31st in order to be considered.  Please contact Terrie at Territorial for more information!

The Math/Science Night that took place at Laurel on April 20th was really fun. More than 300 people attended this event and engaged in science and math activities and enjoyed dinner with their families and the Laurel staff who were in attendance. The most popular station was the “Egg Drop” station where each classroom presented an engineered egg contraption, where the main goal was to “save the egg.” 6 classrooms were able to successfully build a contraption that achieved this goal. Students had a sense of pride in their work and were extremely excited to share their successes with their families and their peers the next day. Many thanks to the dedicated staff at Laurel, especially Leigh Wilcox and Jen Gower, who have put hours into planning this event and other family events this year.  Community engagement and parent involvement have been a priority at Laurel and we are seeing the result of these efforts in student engagement, love for learning, and students’ sense of belonging.

On April 27th, Laurel students engaged in fundraising for outdoor school through the Jog-a-Thon event. The students were super excited to run, enjoy music, snacks, and the company of the many parents who volunteered to help. Principal Rizkallah, classroom teachers, and our instructional assistants also ran with the students and show support for outdoor school. Thanks to the entire Laurel community for contributing to making Laurel a very fun place to be.  Joy has been identified by the Laurel staff- for three years in a row- to be a core value, and they are living up to it. Many thanks to our wonderful, actively engaged Laurel Parent Group for organizing this awesome fundraising event.

Laurel celebrated Earth Day by decorating Safeway paper shopping bags with Earth Day themes. This event generated lots of conversations in classrooms and among staff members about our planet, global warming, recycling, and other topics related to this theme. This event was led by kindergarten teacher Heather Stafford and supported by our counselor, Miranda Linville. This is another example of showing distributed leadership at Laurel, where every staff member is invited to lead projects and show their passion and talent. We all thank Heather and Miranda for being such invaluable, contributing staff members.

Smarter Balanced testing is well underway and it is going very smoothly. It is impressive to see how our third and fourth grade students are showing a great deal of responsibility, grit, and perseverance in taking this test. Students are doing their best to show all that they know in the area of reading and math. This opportunity is cause for celebration as we observe students exercising the very skills they are learning day in and day out about the growth mindset, their self-efficacy, productive struggle and perseverance. The entire staff at Laurel is very proud of our students and thank their families for supporting our children through this experience.
April was a busy month for state testing as all students focus on completing the Reading portion of the Smarter Balanced exams.  As May approaches, students will be completing the math assessments.  We would like to publicly thank Jackie Terrien for being an amazing lead proctor. 

On April 7th, the JC School of Dance and Encore Dance Studios performed for the entire student body.  Many Oaklea students danced in front of their classmates that afternoon, and took a huge leap out of their comfort zones as this is not an easy thing to do in middle school.  They did a wonderful job and were very well-received by their Oaklea classmates and staff. 

On April 10th, Fernando Gonzalez visited for an all-school assembly.  His group, Rancho Luna Lobos, based in Utah, has rescued over 400 dogs for the purpose of training them for dog sledding races.  His lead dog is a Yellow Lab, and one of his best dogs is blind. Through this powerful presentation, Oaklea students learned about the power of attitude, growth mindset through adversity, and not losing hope.

This past Saturday, April 29th, several Oaklea teachers participated in the ArtCore Spring Conference in Eugene.  Oaklea staff shared some of the ways we have been integrating the arts with core curriculum, and also heard from other school staff about similar projects they are working on.  As part of ArtCore, our 6th graders have been working with Dr. Ed Madison from the U of O on a journalism project.  With Mrs. Kulm's help, they are learning how to interview, using Skype as a medium to converse with business leaders, doctors, and other professionals throughout the country.  This has been an amazing project to watch our kids be involved in.

Finally, enthusiastic appreciation was offered for our secretaries and office support staff during Administrative Professionals week last week.  We couldn't do this work for kids without all of you!

In District news, please mark your calendars for this Wednesday, May 3rd for this year’s Empty Bowls fundraiser.  From 5:30 to 7 PM in the JCHS main gym, you can purchase a beautiful bowl- handmade by Bob Lee’s ceramics students- and filled with delicious soup made by Ms. Lucier’s family and consumer sciences students- for only $10. Funds are being raised to support the Junction City Soroptimists’ Bunches of Lunches program, which provides weekend food support for more than 80 of our students District-wide.  In addition to beautiful bowls and tasty food, there also will be lots of entertainment, featuring musicians from our schools, the JCHS Talent Show Winners, the Encore Dance Troup, Dem Oaklea Boys, the Alchemy Barbershop Quartet and Mind the Gap- the University of Oregon’s award-winning Coed accappella group.

In other upcoming Community Event news, this Sunday- beginning at 4 PM- at Paradise Springs Event Center in Monroe, The Soroptimists International of Junction City will be having a fund-raising Fiesta De Mayo dinner. The event is all-inclusive; tickets are $65 per person and must be purchased in advance.  On Saturday, May 13th, the Soroptimists and Junction City Police Department will be co-hosting an event at the River Life Event Center on Peoria Road in Harrisburg. The event will promote awareness of Human Trafficking and how to prevent it; this free event is open to adults and children above grade 5.  Also happening on May 13th, our local Habitat for Humanity will be hosting a “Women’s’ Build” event at the soon-to-be Watts’ home Harrisburg.  Building professionals and staff from Lowes will provide participants in the safe use and handling of power tools; if you are interested in attending, sign ups end soon! Contact our local Habitat for Humanity, or sign up by using this link: http://www.jchmhabitat.org/women-build-2017.html

I recently attended a State Superintendents’ Meeting and hoped to hear updated information about K-12 funding for the 2017-19 biennium.  There was no new news, and in this case no news is bad news; Districts in our County and around the state are building their budgets based on the Co-Chairs 7.8B framework, or the Governor’s 8.0B proposed funding level; both of these are well below the 8.4B allocation needed to maintain the “Current Service Level” for K-12 Districts throughout the State.  Superintendents shared the plans that are forming in their districts to deal with the funding shortfall- including cutting school days, eliminating programs, and laying off staff.  These cuts will lead to an even-shorter school year for Oregon’s children- who already have one of the shortest school years in the nation and also will result in even larger class sizes- another ‘dubious honor’ that our State holds.  Oregon’s economy is robust, and unemployment is at the lowest level in a long, long time; however, the state is facing a 1.6B+ revenue shortfall, due in large measure to the PERS promises that were made to current retirees decades ago.  Those PERS obligations will cost our District an additional $400K next year, and that obligation is expected to continue to increase for the next several biennia at least. We are discussing cost-cutting measures in negotiations with our licensed employee group, and will be digging more into those specifics at our Budget Committee meeting coming up on May 8th.   People who are interested in getting involved in the school funding conversation- and having their voices heard by the legislature- may visit the Oregon Rising website for information and materials. 

At that State Superintendents’ Meeting, we also had hoped to hear more definitive information about the status of Measure 98 funds for the 2017-18 school year.  Apparently, because of the looming State Revenue shortfall, specific commitments for that funding have not yet been secured.  We heard that the funding for next year could range from full funding, to no funding, to 50% funding, to 75% funding.  It makes it challenging to try to plan for (and plan how to pay for!) new high school programs when we don’t know what funding- if any- we might receive.  However, we are working proactively to identify those new courses and programs that would be of greatest interest to, and highest value for, our high school students. We also believe that if funding is granted for next school year, we will be able to use up to 15% of it for 8th grade.

We are planning to offer our 8th to 9th grade transition program, the Bridge Program again this summer- whether or not Measure 98 funds will be available to support that program.  We have learned that Stanford University’s Decision Education Foundation program will again cover the cost of training our program staff and upper-class program mentors.  We also will be reaching out to the Education Together Foundation program to support the purchase of some of the materials, food, and incentives for the program, and will cobble together any gap funding from our general fund.  In its first year last summer, this program demonstrated its worth by having participating students enter high school better prepared, less anxious, and more connected to their new school.

Now, turning to news from the April 24th board meeting, Acting Chair Denise Pratt shared that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week; I was out in a couple of our schools this morning and staff rooms were heaped with goodies and decorations clearly demonstrating how loved our teachers are!  Next, special recognition was offered for several amazing volunteers:  Sandy Sherman for Laurel Elementary and Wendy Thelander for Territorial Elementary. These women are amazing, and give so generously of their time to make sure that our elementary students have the best, most enriching educational experience around.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee Members (CAC) Michael Kaiser and Lynda Taylor.  That team provided highlights from the April CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. They also noted that the bid package is out for the High School addition and remodel projects; bid documents are posted on the District website and are due at the District Office tomorrow, May 2nd, by 3 PM. 

The group also spoke about the many additional projects the District will be able to take on thanks to the nearly 10 MILLION DOLLARS in additional funding that has been secured, and that will not need to be repaid by our District’s tax payers.  That additional money includes the $4 Million State Capital Matching grant the District received, $1.5 Million in Seismic Safety grant funding, nearly $3 Million dollars in bond premiums that the District received when selling the bonds as a result of both the favorable bond market and the District’s strong credit rating, and over $1 Million dollars in Energy Efficiency dollars. Wow!  These additional funds also allowed us to work with architectural firm DLR to revise the plans for the high school addition so that we can more immediately address JCHS student safety by creating a single campus with one main entrance (as opposed to the multi-building campus that we have now.)

We also asked our architect to plan for how to integrate our District Mascot, the Tiger, into the design for the new addition.  A sneak peek of that vision is included as an attachment to this emailed newsletter.  In incorporating the Tiger into the exterior brick work, we may reach out to the Tiger Club and other local organizations to help promote a fundraiser that would create a special plaque listing donors for the feature wall, or sponsorship of some of the outdoor plaza furniture like benches.  The funds raised could then be used to commission some special works of art for the addition, a sculpture outside, or special furniture for the new media center, community room, or coffee bar/common area in the remodeled WW media center.

It was also shared that there have been inquiries and interest from a variety of public and not-for-profit entities, including Ophelia’s Place, Junction City Athletics, the City of JC, JCPD, community-based health center,  regarding how the District might repurpose the East Wing when the addition has been completed and those classrooms are no longer needed.  The board will want to seek some guidance on how best to use the East Wing for the greatest benefit to our community, and how to structure that use (and for what length of time) since the long-range facilities plan would put the EW back into play in future phasing of the High School improvements.

Finally, an idea was surfaced for developing a business directory that could be made available to all of the workers that will be on our school campuses over the next few years, working on our bond projects.  I have reached out to Rick at the Chamber to see if he can help identify businesses for the director. The District also may reach out to list interested businesses in a directory for contractor and subs; if they are interested, a coupon book could be developed, or the directory could list discounts or specials for those bond project workers when they show their badge.

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on March 20th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also approved leaves of absences for JCHS teacher Liz Henderson, and OMS teacher Ceri Burke.  They acted to hire Mark Navin as a temporary grade 3 teacher at Laurel; Mark was hired to take the place of a teacher who moved and resigned mid-year.  They also approved the hiring of Danae Wood as a special education teacher at OMS, and Kathryne Kent as a special education teacher at Laurel. 

The board also accepted the resignation of Jamie Newbold (grade 3, Laurel Elementary), Nancy Reade (special education, Territorial) and Jessie Proulx (math, Oaklea).  The resignation of JCHS Principal McRae also was tendered, and reluctantly accepted by the board. 

After accepting Mr. McRae’s resignation, meeting attendees were made aware of the plans for the HS leadership positions, beginning with the 2017-18 school year.   The departure of both Principal McRae and Assistant Principal Steve Jones will present some very significant challenges for our District and for the high school.  Given these tremendous losses in high school leadership- and the potential for losses in institutional history, established relationships, and school improvement initiatives that are underway at the high school, the board and I have been challenged to think “outside the box” in terms of a plan that would minimize the negative impacts on the High School staff, students, and the many initiatives that are underway.  After very careful consideration, it seems that the approach that would be most successful- and least disruptive- to the high school would be to look within the current ranks of the Administrative Leadership Team to figure out how best to fill the void that will be left by the departure of these 2 long-time high school administrators. 

We have two seasoned principals on our team who both have extensive backgrounds at the high school level- including in leadership positions- that will be reassigned to serve as co-principals of Junction City High School.  Dina Marschall- currently the principal at Territorial Elementary and our District TAG program Director- taught at Roseburg High School for many years, and was the Program Director of a very successful Early Childhood education program for Roseburg High School students. She also has an established track record as a principal in our District, and has been involved in a number of District-level curriculum, technology, teacher evaluation, and assessment initiatives that have helped her develop credibility, connections and relationships across our 4 schools.  Brian Young has successfully served as principal at Oaklea Middle School since the 2012-13 school year.  Prior to that, he served as the Assistant Principal at Junction City High School, and before that, he also was a teacher at Roseburg High School, where he also served as Chair of the Social Studies Department. 

The “Co-Principal” model is one that is sometimes used in high schools- most noticeably in those model high schools that have been participants in some of the Gates Foundation grants.  Both Dina and Brian have established leadership track records in our District and successful high school teaching experience in other districts. They both possess tremendous skills and talents in instruction, curriculum, behavior management, community relations, and staff supervision and evaluation. They both possess those important soft-skills- they are effective communicators and develop strong, respectful, professional relationships with others.  Their skillsets will be complementary, and I am confident that they will work very effectively to manage the heavy workload and complex challenges that high school administrators face. 

This week, we will be creating an open posting for the Oaklea Middle School principal position; we may wait for quite a bit on the Territorial administrative position as the FTE may be filled differently and/or combined with a position other than the TAG director position during this time of budget cuts.  With respect to administrative openings- other than the high school leadership positions that will be filled via reassignments- we anticipate using a process similar to that which we have employed in past principal hiring processes. That process has been one that has allowed for very meaningful staff, parent, board member, and community member involvement. 

In the final two action items of the evening, the board accepted Special Projects Director Tom Endersby’s recommendations for the upcoming K-5 Science materials adoption; the plan for the grades 6 through 12 adoption will be presented at a later meeting.  In the final action item, the board approved adding a year to the Superintendent’s contract, to maintain a rolling, 3-year term of employment with the District.

With respect to discussion items, the board received Oaklea Middle School’s “Annual Report”, and also heard from the high school about some pending changes to the Athletic Code of Conduct to make it more clear for students and parents. 

Tom Endersby presented the draft 2017-18 school calendar.  He reminded all those in attendance that further changes in the calendar may be required due to the State’s revenue shortfall, as well as possible changes that may be negotiated with our associations.  Business Manager Alison Covey provided a financial update and reminded everyone that there is a Budget Committee meeting on May 8th.  The Superintendent shared an enrollment update, and the Board was presented with a copy of the “Governor’s Safe and Welcoming Schools for All Students” executive order.

Finally, just a reminder that June 19th, 20th and 21st will now be school days for students in grades K-11, due to all of the inclement weather closures we had this year.  Graduation will still take place at Peden Stadium on Saturday, June 10th at 2 PM.  Also, if you are a parent of an incoming kindergartener, please be sure to contact the head secretary at both Territorial and Laurel to get information on kindergarten registration requirements and the summer Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program.

Have a wonderful week!


March 2017

I can’t believe we are heading into the home stretch of the 2016-17 school year! Our students and staff returned from Spring Break well-rested, re-energized, and ready to begin the third trimester.  

Just before break, our School Board held their March meeting; below you can read the March 2017 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from the March 20th school board meeting.   Happy reading, and happy spring!

On March 2nd, Territorial students and staff participated in an assembly and a 30-minute school wide read-a-thon in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  Dr. Seuss titles were available and pairs of older and younger students participated in partner reading throughout the read-a-thon, reporting on the titles read, which were later tallied, graphed, and displayed in the hallway.  This year, Territorial’s 135 students read 463 books!  Traditions like these are great fun and really support the connections that are so valuable to student learning and success.

Also on the 2nd, representatives of the Junction City Soroptimist Club visited Territorial to give each and every child their very own book again this year.  It was such fun to see the excitement generated by this activity as students selected a book to KEEP for their very own.  Many thanks to the members of the Junction City Soroptimists; we appreciate their generosity and tremendous efforts to support our students and families throughout the year.

We also appreciate the fabulous service of District Nurse, Carol Puderbaugh.  On March 8th, Nurse Carol provided First Aid and CPR instruction for TES staff, certifying 11 staff members.  Additional instruction was provided on the use of the available AED equipment.

The annual Territorial Elementary School Project Fair was held March 10th and was a huge success with 82 students submitting project boards for display.  Students illustrated their use of the scientific inquiry method as they developed and tested hypotheses related to questions they posed.  Several parent volunteers served as judges, evaluating each project board and providing a participation ribbon and written feedback for students.  Many thanks to our project fair volunteers as well as the parents and families who supported and assisted students in completing their projects at home.

Members of the Eugene Ems staff joined in for Territorial’s morning Bobcat Assembly on March 13th to kick off their reading incentive program.  Students who meet their reading goal this spring will receive two tickets to an EMS baseball game as well as VIP access to meet players on the field.

State testing got underway at TES on Wednesday, March 15th with 5th grade students taking the OAKS Science assessment.  This first round of assessments provided staff with an opportunity to check the readiness of technology and practice procedures prior to implementation of the Smarter Balanced ELA and Math assessments for 3rd - 5th grade students scheduled to begin April 10th.

One team from Territorial qualified to compete in the Regional OBOB tournament which was held at North Eugene HS on Saturday, March 18th.  Coach Annette Sisler expressed her admiration for the time, energy and dedication of all our OBOB participants as well as her appreciation for the number of parent-helpers who assisted with practices throughout the season.

Two LEGO League Jr. Teams from Territorial joined teams from Laurel and around the state, showcasing their projects at the State Level Expo held at OMSI on Sunday, March 19th.  Coaches Amy Barnes and Sara Probert worked with these students throughout the winter as they researched a problem related to the provided theme, “Creature Craze”, in addition to identifying a solution, constructing a model and creating a project board to explain their thinking. 

Just before break, Territorial staff used their Professional Activity time on March 23rd and 24th to complete 2nd trimester report cards, conference with families as requested, and plan for instruction through the end of the year.

The week before Spring Break, the construction fences came down- and on Monday, March 20th, students had their first opportunity to play under the newly constructed covered area at TES.  Principal Marschall made the announcement at the Bobcat assembly first thing that morning and the students went wild with excitement to be able to use shelter.  Students have been watching, learning and asking questions during the entire construction project and last month, the third-graders posted thank you notes on the fence to express their gratitude as the project was nearing completion.  We are all incredibly grateful for the community investment in- and support of- our school! Please watch for information about Territorial’s upcoming “Barn-Raising” to celebrate the completion of the play shelter; the event is planned for late May.

Additionally, students are preparing for the annual Talent Show and the TPA is working to plan for another amazing school-wide Outdoor School experience.

Laurel’s Talent Show took place on March 10th and was outstanding!! The students’ talents were out of this world. Thanks to all of the parents, grandparents, and community members who attended the show to support our children and our school. A huge thank you goes out to Music Specialist Deborah Adams for her dedication to our children; she spent countless hours preparing for the show and it all paid off! In addition to the amazing student performances, several members from the Laurel staff joined the principal in a surprise dance that was the opening act for the night. The students LOVED it! The show concluded with celebrating Mrs. Adams’ accomplishments at Laurel, and showering her with much-deserved accolades, love, and respect for her time so honorably serving the Junction City community. Everyone wished her a happy retirement next year; it was a wonderful way to end the fantastic show. We are so grateful to have a positive and energetic Laurel family that values fun and joy as part of the learning experience.

Dr. Seuss Family Fun Night at Laurel was held in early March and was amazing. We invited several key community members to be guest readers. The event was well-attended and the students had so much fun exploring books and participating in literacy-based activities.  To further celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, the Junction City Soroptimist Group came to Laurel on Friday, March 11th and celebrated with all of our students. They handed out a book for each and every child that attends Laurel to take home and keep for their very own. The students treasured those books and were so happy to receive them. Thanks to all of our supportive community members!  Our next family Fun Night is coming up on April 20th. We are hosting a science fair where students are going to showcase the science projects they have been working hard to put together. We are excited to be highlighting the great work our students are doing in science.

Just before break, teachers in all grade levels conducted Spring Parent/Teacher Conferences. They met with families and discussed students’ progress and needs. It is always a positive experience for teachers and parents to connect and celebrate success and growth. The staff at Laurel deserves recognition for fostering such a collaborative and positive school culture with a common goal of supporting our students to reach their full potential.

Laurel’s third and fourth grade students are getting ready to take the Smarter Balanced test two weeks after spring break. Currently, the teachers and proctors are administering the practice test to allow students to get a feel of what it’s like to take the test. Our students are having a positive experience practicing for this test, and we are anticipating the process to go very smoothly.
Oaklea’s staff and students spent the month of March focusing on gathering support and donations for the "Pennies For Patients" program.  The national fund raiser is for children dealing with leukemia and lymphoma.  Cancer has impacted numerous individuals in our building- both staff and students- and hits us especially hard at this time while we have a beloved teacher dealing with this disease.  Kids went above and beyond and raised over $1000 for this worthwhile cause.  Oaklea’s Leadership students organized activities for donations, such as hat days, music selections in the cafeteria, coin drives in TEAM rooms, and duct taping several staff members to the cafeteria wall during lunches. Students watched a video with several families dealing with these blood cancers, and the impact of that information has been significant and inspiring to students.

In addition to this month’s Pennies for Patients effort, Oaklea students, administrators and licensed staff celebrated our classified employees during the first full week of March; we appreciate all they do to support our kids, teachers, and school community.

As mentioned last month, our staff has selected 6 traits they would like to see in all of our 8th grade graduates.  The project is called "A Portrait of an Oaklea Graduate".  The traits selected are: Understand Your World, Critical & Creative Thinkers, Self- Awareness, Academic Grit, Goal Driven, and Collaborators & Communicators.  On our Professional Activity day on the Friday before break, teachers dug deeper to document when we are building students toward these goals at each of our grade levels.  This is all part of the professional development brought to us through the ArtCore and Studio-To-Schools grants.

Ninety-seven Oaklea student athletes are participating in track.  Simply Amazing!  That represents 1/5th of our student body.  Coaches Jeff Starr, Chris Surface, and Shannon McAdams are building such a positive and solid program at Oaklea, and it really helps with the development of Junction City High
School’s track program as well.

Oaklea’s OBOB team reached an unprecedented Sweet 16 at the recent Regional Competition, and the Oaklea 7th & 8th Robotics team finished in the top 10% of the 450 middle school teams that recently competed at the State level.  WOW! Brain Bowl has also started.  State testing is now underway, with students starting with Smarter Balanced Language Arts in mid-March.

Thankfully, JCHS closed the gradebooks on a challenging and extended second trimester, with finals and second trimester grades submitted just before the break.  After having a chance to recharge and reset during spring break, students and staff are looking forward to a more regular school schedule including 8th Grade Parent Night on April 17, the Top Tiger Pageant on April 24, a sobering pre-prom assembly presented by JCFD and JCPD just ahead of the Prom on May 8.  Please note that Tri-3 Parent-Teacher Conferences have been postponed to May 11 to account for the calendar shift due to inclement weather.

A request for an active shooter training for First Responders including JCPD, JCFD and local EMT’s has been postponed. It was tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 24, with staff in the building as participants and observers, but it was delayed until later in the year.  Principal McRae will keep the board, staff and community posted on these plans going forward.

Despite the rather soggy spring weather, Tiger Softball and Baseball were able to get on the field for their first scheduled games of the season. The Tennis opener was rained out, but the girls still got one match in this past week. Golfers teed up their first shots, and the first starter’s pistol of the spring echoed across Track & Field the week before break. 

Work on the documentary video intended to portray the spectrum of student perspectives in the days following the November election continues to be in post-production. The finished product is expected to be available very soon.  The Social Justice League has been considering the most effective and safe means of presenting the video to students and allowing for supported conversations in addressing the perspectives that are presented.  There also is a plan to include the video in the Annual Social Justice League Film Festival for a broader community audience.

At the February board meeting, the high school began the first of what we expect will be monthly reports regarding behavioral incidences- and responses to such incidents- when the incident involves racism, harassment, bullying or intimidation. There has been one minor harassing behavior incident reported and addressed since that February Board Meeting.   We have had several parents, board members and administrative staff members working with the Social Justice League to improve school climate and student safety for all.  To that end, the group is almost ready to launch a mentoring program that will have diverse high school students building positive relationships with students at Laurel.  Participating students are eager to get started!

At the February board meeting, several visitors spoke under public comment regarding their High School Student Exchange service.  In light of the issue being raised, JCHS plans to bring forward revisions regarding the process for accepting Foreign Exchange students and the Athletic Code and Rules to the April Board meeting. JCHS will be looking for consensus support as the revisions aren’t likely to require changes to Board Policy.

In District News, in mid-March I spent the day in Salem meeting with our local legislators and others to discuss school funding for K-12 for the 2017-19 biennium in light of the State’s 1.7B+ projected shortfall.  As those in attendance at the board meeting heard later in the evening when Alison presented the District’s financial update, the Co-Chairs’ proposed budget formed the basis for the “Official Estimate” school districts received on the first Friday in March.  The proposed funding level would result in drastic reductions to K-12 Districts state-wide; our District would need to reduce over 1M in expenses in each of the next 2 years should we ultimately be funded at the level proposed in the Official Estimate.  While professional organizations such as OSBA and COSA believe that estimated funding number will increase, even in the best case scenario we will still need to make reductions in expenditures for the next biennium, due in large part to increases in our PERS obligations and other employee-related roll-up costs.   To that end, a number of these issues will be discussed at the bargaining table while we are in contract negotiations with JCEA.  We very much look forward to working with our Association Leaders to find the best ways to deal with this funding shortfall using strategies that have the least detrimental impact on students, and our staff.

I also had the opportunity to talk with our legislators about other issues of concern to our District, including funding for Measure 98, eliminating or delaying a number of mandates, and asking the legislature to allow districts to “opt-out” of OEBB so that we have the opportunity to shop for more affordable health care for our staff.  We will certainly keep you all posted as the budget information is updated and as other education-related changes occur at the State Legislative level.

Interested staff and patrons also may wish to visit OSBA’s webpage to see the results of the organization’s Revenue Reform Survey which can be found at http://www.osba.org/-/media/Files/Resources/Legislative/OSBA-State-Funding-Survey-Report-February-2017.pdf?la=en.  Interested parties also may wish to visit COSA’s website, where you can find a link to the Oregon Rising Project, which also shows how strongly Oregonians value our public schools and believe that the future of Oregon rests on our ability to provide our children with the quality education they deserve http://www.oregon-rising.org/.

Now, turning to news from the March 20th board meeting-  the meeting began with entertainment by the Oaklea Marimba band.  It was festive and fabulous! After performing several songs, OMS music teacher Jim McReynolds spoke with the board about the upcoming “Schools on Trains” trip to Seattle in June. Sixteen students, accompanied by 7 chaperones- including Board Chair Wendy Waddell and Board Member Judy Croce- will travel by train for a field trip that will include a visit to the Experience Music Project Museum, the Pike Place Market and more. The students, staff, and volunteers have been busy fundraising to help offset the cost of the trip. Many thanks to the staff members and parents who have given of their time to serve hot dogs at Autzen Stadium during football games to help pay for this special activity and other music program needs.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee Members (CAC) Michael Kaiser and Judy Kazmierkoski.  That team provided highlights from the March CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. They also noted that the District would be “going out for bid” for the High School addition and remodel projects on April 4th; bid documents are posted on the District website and there will be a “walk-through” for contractors and subcontractors at 10 AM on April 12th.  Some important dates to keep in mind are May 15th for a possible ground-breaking event at JCHS, and the Barn-Raising/TES play shelter completion celebration on May 23rd.  More information will be available as those dates draw near J. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on February 27th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also approved an updated list of Probationary/Temporary/ and Contract Staff for 2017-18, and updated the number of openings under Open Enrollment to account for students that are already attending JCHS on transfers.

The board then heard from several distinguished guests, JC Police Chief Bob Morris and JCSD School Resource Officer Ken Jackson.  The PD representatives provided an overview of the SRO program, and those in attendance were reminded that we are currently in year 3 of a 4-year Federal COPS grant program.  The board expressed deep appreciation for the work of our SRO, and affirmed their commitment to provide $20K in funding to continue the program for the 2017-18 school year, per the terms of the agreement between the City and the school district.  Several board members (along with the business manager, superintendent, and representative of the District administrative team) expressed a willingness to meet with Chief Morris, the city’s budget manager, the City Administrator and several City Councilors near the end of this year to talk about how the program might be sustained after the 2017-18 school year when the grant funds are no longer available.

In other Discussion items, those in attendance heard the annual report from Junction City High School Principal and Assistant Principal.  A lengthier overview will be provided when the March board meeting minutes are posted, but the key take-aways are that JCHS continues to post graduation rates that exceed the state average and that gains are being made in closing the achievement gap.  With respect to school climate at the high school, it appears that things have stabilized and there was only one report of minor harassment during March; students in the Social Justice League are also very excited to kick off their mentoring program at Laurel Elementary school this spring. 

Steve Jones and Ronda Wheadon then shared some information that they have been gathering about the feasibility of our district offering our own Online Options program for students K-12.  Currently, there are students enrolled in one of several online “web academies” in the state.  It has presented a challenge for some parents of online students to also have their children take advantage of courses and special programs that the district offers since most of those programs do not allow for dual enrollment or ADM (state school fund) sharing. Also of concern is that many of these online charter programs have very low graduation rates (e.g., rates between 20-30%, with one of the programs graduating less than 12% of their seniors last year).   Hosting an online program in our district would mean that families could easily access dual enrollment opportunities, receive face-to-face instructional support from our highly qualified teaching staff, and participate in enrichment programs, after school activities, and athletics and pay the same fee as full-time students in the district.  Once the new high school addition is completed in the summer of 2018, such a program could be housed away from the rest of the school buildings, either in the Pitney Center or in an unused area of the old East Wing.  In the coming weeks and months, we will be assessing families’ interest in such a program, and then working with the board on how best to offer such a program in the coming years.

The board also heard a brief financial report and a student enrollment update. In terms of financial news, given the State’s projected budget shortfall, our administrative team, board, and budget committee will be working on a budget that plans for staffing and expenditures in a series of “Tiers” so that we can respond most nimbly to changes in the State School Fund appropriation for our District.  With respect to student enrollment, the number of students enrolled for the 2016-17 school year has been stable. We look forward to welcoming new families to the District upon completion of the new subdivision off of 10th; with regard to Open Enrollment (applications for which closed last week), it appears that we will need to use a “lottery” system at most grade levels as the number of requests for enrollment by out-of-district students is exceeding the number of spots the board opened up.  Those who are not admitted under Open Enrollment can take heart, however, as they may later apply for admission using the inter-district transfer process.  For more information about transfers, please contact Stephanie White in the District Office.

Finally, just a reminder that June 19th, 20th and 21st will now be school days for students in grades K-11, due to all of the inclement weather closures we had this year.  Graduation will still take place at Peden Stadium on Saturday, June 10th at 2 PM.  Also, if you are a parent of an incoming kindergartener, please be sure to contact the head secretary at both Territorial and Laurel to get information on upcoming kindergarten registration activities and the summer Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program.

February 2017

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but it is the first week of March and I am hoping that we have seen the last of this year’s snow days, delayed starts and alternate bus routes!  We did miss six days of school, and also had several delayed starts. In order to meet the State’s Instructional Hour requirements, the board approved a plan to “add back” 3 of the missed school by having students attend on June 19, 20 and 21. There also will be some changes to this month’s calendar, in that March 16th and 17th are now student days, and March 23rd and 24th are now non-student days.  Please visit the District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/ to get the scoop on changes to the calendar.  While you are there, take a few minutes to check out the “Bond Updates” section to see images of the progress of the Territorial Play Shelter, and to see our plans for the high school addition. There are some very cool interior, exterior, landscape and site plan images- as well as a link to an animation that will zoom you through the outside of the addition. 

What follows is the February 2017 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from Monday night’s (February 27th) school board meeting.   Happy reading, and stay warm and dry!

Territorial students completed the Winter Easy CBM Benchmark assessments this month, with teachers meeting to review data on February 13th.  They saw growth across grade levels in Reading and Math Measures, with 89% of students scoring in the “low risk” category on the CCSS Math measure of the Winter Benchmark assessment.  Currently 5 of our 6 classrooms have moved above the 80% “low risk” target and 3 grade levels now have more than 90% of students identified as “low risk” in Math.  We attribute this improvement to our focus on Math instruction over the past four years, the availability and use of Common Core aligned curriculum for core instruction, the inclusion of “Double Dose” time in the schedule, and the addition of specific math intervention activities outside of the core.  Teachers also saw growth in student scores on Reading measures school-wide, with 83% of students identified as “low risk” in those measures on the Winter Benchmark.  At this point in the year, 4 of 6 grade levels have reached year-end targets, with more than 80% of students scoring in the” low risk” category in Reading.  Teachers collaborated to identify specific strategies to support student learning and growth in core subjects going forward with an eye toward moving our “some risk” and “high risk” students up at least one level on the Spring Benchmark scheduled for May.

During the February 8th Early Release time, Territorial teachers met with Lane ESD Science guru Bob Curtis for a workshop focused on applying Next Generation Science Standards to hands on activities in the area of Engineering and Design.  Additionally, Bob provided insight and feedback on available and aligned curriculum and resources.

The annual Grandparent’s Day Tea was a great success, with outstanding grandparent participation.  We estimate that over 150 grandparents and special guests joined a child or two or three for tea and pastries February 10th.   Entertainment was provided by Territorial students and directed by Music teacher Amy Burrow.   Each class performed a song or instrumental selection for their guests.  Festivities wrapped up with students and grandparents visiting a photo booth to commemorate the day before stopping off to shop at the Scholastic Book Fair.  Many” thanks” to our faithful TPA volunteers and Territorial Staff, all of whom worked very hard to make this a memorable day for students and grandparents alike.  TPA volunteer and Book Fair Coordinator, Wendy Thelander reported sales of over $3,000 this year.

Fifteen Territorial students participated in the Oregon Battle of the Books Program this year, with two teams continuing on to the District competition held on February 24th at Oaklea Middle School; ultimately, one team from Territorial qualified to move on to the regional competition to be held March 18th at North Eugene High School.   Good luck OBOB Bobcats!

Planning for Outdoor School activities is well underway; a theme of “Long Ago at Lutherwood” will take us back to yester-year as students school wide spend the week engaging in a variety of hands-on, enriching activity stations including leather craft, archery, stream science, archaeology,  old time games, pioneer challenge and outdoor cooking to name a few.  We are incredibly grateful to the Territorial Parent Association volunteers who work year-round to raise funds for this fun and memorable culminating experience as well as those staff and parents who are engaged in the planning and preparation necessary to make TES Outdoor School a success.

Laurel’s recent BINGO night was such a huge success, raising over $6000! Many thanks to our Parent Group for working so hard on collecting donations from community members and putting baskets together for BINGO prizes and the silent auction. Also a huge thank you for Laurel teachers for contributing to the collection of basket items. Laurel is also very grateful for the community members who attended the event and contributed to the fundraising cause and to the fourth grade teachers who helped during the event.  Because of this collective effort, we will be able to provide our fourth graders with a unique opportunity to participate in Outdoor School, where they will spend a whole week at Camp Lutherwood, engaging in hands on science and physical activities.

Laurel’s next Family fun night happened last night- March 2nd; the theme was “Dress Like Your Favorite Children’s Book Character Night.”   Staff and students were invited to dress up like their favorite book character the entire day on Thursday, March 2nd. During the evening event, community members read aloud all-time favorite Dr. Seuss books; families played games, won door prizes, made crafts and much more. It was a marvelous night filled with fun and love of reading. In addition, the school took this opportunity to promote healthy eating and well-being through our CATCH program. They offered informational materials and YUMMY, healthy snacks were set up in the cafeteria for families to enjoy. It was a wildly successful Family Fun Event!

Laurel’s Vision Focus for the month of February was “Responsible Citizens”. They kicked this theme off by honoring one of the most responsible citizens in town, our School Resource Officer Ken Jackson. During our student assembly on February 8th, we welcomed a group of community members from The American Legion of Junction City who helped us celebrate Officer Jackson’s contributions to our community. Some members of the high school band also joined us that day and filled the room with their wonderful music. We will continue to promote a culture of equity and success for each and every student through the intentional focus on achieving our school’s vision.

Laurel was recently able to use Education Together grant funds to order two more promethean boards, and we are planning to order another for our kindergarten classrooms. This means that hopefully by the end of this year, we will have a promethean board in every general education classroom at Laurel. This is exciting and energizing as our teachers are using this tool to transform their teaching and engage students on a totally different and deeper level. Many thanks to the wonderful community members who contribute to grant funds through Education Together. We are grateful for this generous contribution.

Laurel teachers just finished a round of Professional Learning Community (PLC) Cycles where they engaged in the analysis of their teaching and student achievement. We found that- generally- our student achievement is trending upward and students are showing great growth. We attribute this success to the tireless work of our teachers to use the strategies that best fit each student’s academic needs. As we have it in our school’s vision, each and every student is engaged in activities and learning opportunities that promote their academic growth and individual excellence.

This past Friday, Oaklea Middle School hosted the District Oregon Battle of the Books competition, with various teams from Junction City competing for the opportunity to represent Junction City Schools in the regional competition.  Best of luck to those JCSD teams participating in the March Regional Competition.

Earlier this week, (Tuesday, February 28th) Oaklea hosted a "Camping Out With Reading" night at 5:30pm.  Students and families were invited for pizza and refreshments; there were literacy stations throughout the building, the Book Fair, and a chance for kids to win gift cards by participating in activities focused on literacy.  The evening event is one of the highlights as we celebrated "Read Across America Week” this entire week.

On Valentine’s Day, the 7th and 8th grade Leadership students and advisors walked to two JC Retirement Centers to hand out valentines to some of our senior citizens. The students enjoyed sharing stories about life in middle school and hearing childhood memories from our seniors as well.  The Leadership students also helped in organizing positive activities during this National Random Acts of Kindness Month.

On our February Early Release day, Oaklea’s math teachers spent time with a consultant to become more familiar with our new Ready Math curriculum, science teachers met to discuss how we are addressing the Next Generation standards at each grade level, and our classified staff trained with behavior specialists Ryan Stanley and Darcey Edwards on some essential MANDT strategies: avoiding power struggles, helping students to de-escalate, and non-verbal strategies.

5th and 8th grade students are now completing OAKS science testing, and we are gearing up to start Smarter Balanced testing in Reading beginning in mid-March.  Finally, our "Portrait of an Oaklea Graduate" project is moving along and we have now identified the skills and characteristics we would like to build into each of our 8th grade graduates.  More information to come.

As many are already aware, a group of nearly 40 students and 20 adults participated in a “sit-in” the afternoon of February 10th. The student-led rally voiced concern about the continuation of racially biased language targeting students of color at JCHS and the apparent lack of consequences for behaviors falling within the district’s harassment and bullying policy.

Efforts to collect complaints and address racial harassment and related behaviors within the policy have been progressing. JCHS staff met during the early release time to discuss ways to promote student reporting of issues. Individual and small group meetings with students over the past week have produced an uptick in reports, including a couple of incidents dating back to November and January.  To date, JCHS has addressed-or is addressing- 15 actionable incidents out of approximately 17 reported. Eleven of the incidents took place since the November election and were (at least) indirectly related to forms of harassment. Some 20 complainants contributed to the incident reports involving 12 offenders and/or co-offenders. Disciplinary actions have ranged from “conference with student” to out-of-school suspension and expulsion.

Plans are in the works for a campus campaign to inform students as to the types of incidents that should be reported. This effort is intended to define unacceptable and reportable behavior in explicit, kid-friendly language.

In other JCHS news, The Lane Workforce Partnership sent members of the Lane ESD Manufacturing Consortium to visit with Mr. King’s advanced Metals class last Tuesday. Industry representatives included plumbers, bricklayers, excavation, sand & gravel employees, and CTE-related programs at LCC. Presenters did a great job of explaining the paths from our shops and programs to employment, the importance of developing good work habits and skill sets while in high school, and the kind of living wages that good employees earn in each industry.  This visit went SO well that the Lane Workforce Partnership will be coming back with 4 more employers (Johnson Crushers, Peterson-Pacific, Seneca Sawmills and Ideal Steel) on April 20th from 1:30 to 3 PM. Thanks to our College and Career Center Coordinator Liz Bolton for shepherding these career outreach opportunities to our students.

Tiger Wrestling sent four wrestlers to the OSAA State Tournament at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland this past weekend. Congratulations to Cameron Truesdell, Travis Hodgson, Tyler Morris, and John Dover for advancing to the big tournament. Tyler walked away with a 4th place finish, and John earned 2nd in State in his weight class.  Coach Bob Lee made large gains in fielding a competitive team this season, and the future looks bright based on booming participation at the middle and elementary grades.

Coach Bolton’s Girls’ Varsity Basketball team traveled to Seaside for the play-in round of the OSAA State Tournament this past Saturday. This group of overachievers surprised many with their competitive spirit and a third-place finish in the Sky-Em League.  Several of our Lady Tigers also earned All-League Honors: Madi Mehlbrech was named First Team, Alexa Norris was named to the Second team and both Mariah Ohman and McKenzie Evans received Honorable Mention.   Now, on to Spring Sports- and this weekend’s State Chess Tournament were the Tigers will compete!

While attendees at Monday’s board meeting heard a “Bond Update” later in their board meeting, I took a few moments to offer more detailed information about a non-bond related capital improvement issue.  I offered specific information in regard to the action the board took at their January board meeting to approve the purchase of a parcel of land at 18th and Rose in Junction City, just adjacent to Oaklea Middle School. 

I reminded attendees that during our Facilities Visioning process that took place in the years preceding the successful May 2016 Bond Measure, our District-Community Facilities Visioning Team identified the need for land acquisition to address future growth in our District; the District’s long range facilities plan was updated to reflect this identified need.

Our School Board had the foresight to plan for the future of our District and our community when they optioned the property at 18th and Rose in May of 2015- nearly 2 years ago- as a possible future elementary school site.  The property presents many advantages over using the current Laurel site for a future elementary school, in that there would not be a need to displace or reduce the number of playing fields our community values so tremendously- and for which the city already has an identified deficit.  Siting a future elementary school adjacent to the existing middle school also would allow for more efficient sharing of staff and programs between the elementary and middle school, and could potentially address many of the bus routing, traffic, and parking challenges that currently exist at both Laurel and Oaklea. 

The parcel is currently not zoned to allow for placement of a school- and in December 2015 the Junction City Planning Commission denied a request for a discretionary “Code Text Amendment” to allow for a school to be sited there.  At some point in the future, however, the District and Board will look forward to working with our land use attorneys and our City Officials to update the City’s comprehensive plan, zoning, and/or ordinances to acknowledge the District’s identified need for property for future expansion, and to allow the property to be used in way that offer the greatest benefit to future generations of Tigers, for the greater good of our community, and in a manner consistent with State Land Use Planning Goals and Junction City Comprehensive Plan. 

In this discussion, I also took the opportunity to state yet again for the record, the source of funding for this land acquisition.  There apparently has been continued confusion or intentional misinformation shared in our community- so it was again stated for the record that NOT A PENNY of the May 2016 bond money, premiums, or capital matching funds have been- or will be- used for this land acquisition.  The land purchase will be paid for over time and funded from the District’s special maintenance fund, which is funded largely by receipts from the District’s collection of “Construction Excise Taxes”.  Construction Excise Taxes are authorized under ORS 320.170, collected at the point of permitting for new residential or commercial construction, and used as specifically defined in 320.183.  ORS 320.183 (3)(a)(A) expressly permits the use of these funds for land acquisition and specifies that the funds may not be used for programs or staff, or “operating costs or costs of routine maintenance” (ORS 320.183(E)(b)). 

When the legislature authorized the implementation of a Construction Excise Tax in the mid-2000s, it was with the intention of giving Oregon School Districts a way to plan for future growth and facilities needs, and to have new residents and businesses “contribute” to the current tax base that had been used to construct existing (and future) school facilities.  On the topic of growth, I also shared my understanding that the City has approved a development near 10th and Tamarack that will result in 32 new homes to the District, and may be approving Phase 2 of the Reserve that will result in more than 120 new residences in Junction City- the mayor was in attendance at the meeting and confirmed that these proposed developments are in various stages of the City’s planning processes.  Obviously, it is more than prudent for this school board to plan for the future land and facilities; those homes will bring new students to our District and the CET receipts generated by these new homes will help the District plan for the future. 

I also shared the board’s thinking that the District may use several other authorized funding sources to pay for- or recoup some of the costs of- this land purchase in the future.  Earlier this winter, the District commissioned a cruise of the timber at Territorial and found there is significant value there; we also are working with land use attorneys to determine if any of the timbered Territorial property could be designated as “surplus” and sold at some point in the future. 

Additionally, the acreage at 18th and Rose may be in excess of what is needed for a new school, playground, playing fields, and parking so another option a future school board may wish to consider is partitioning off some of that property’s acreage for sale for some residential development. 

I also noted that at this time- and for the next 2-3 years- our District and board’s focus with respect to facilities is to use the bond funds as transparently and prudently as possible to make sure that our Community sees the best possible outcomes for its investment.  A little later in the agenda, attendees heard from the District’s Project Management firm and representatives from the Citizens Advisory Committee regarding bond projects and finances.

Now, turning to news from Monday night’s board meeting-  the meeting began with several Special Recognition items. First, Judy Newman and Taylor Ludtke presented the District with an award on behalf of the United Way and the Early Learning Alliance acknowledging the District’s support of early learning, especially with the huge lift of Preschool Promise and KITS expansion this year.  They thanked the board and District administration, as well as District staff members and the maintenance department, for all of their support for the KITs program.

Next, Chair Wendy Waddell shared that it is National School Counselors’ Month, and she made the following statement: “Junction City School District’s counselors are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development.  They help parents focus on ways to further the educational, personal, and social growth of their children.  Our counselors work with teachers and other educators to help students explore their potential and set realistic goals for themselves.  They seek to identify and utilize community resources that can enhance and compliment comprehensive school counseling programs and help students become productive members of society.  Comprehensive developmental school counseling programs are considered an integral part of the educational process that enables all students to achieve success in school.  The Junction City School District Board of Directors wants to take a moment to thank our District’s counselors: Laurel & Territorial’s Miranda Linville, Oaklea’s Angie Elstone, and Junction City High School’s Brian Miller and Courtney Madsen, and our District’s School Psychologist, Sue Menen.  Thank you all for your commitment to our students, their parents, and our staff.”  Nurse Carol Puderbaugh also should be commended as a part of this wonderful group of professionals who go above and beyond to provide for the behavioral, mental health, and social services needs of all of our students.

Chair Waddell also noted that March 6-10 is Classified Appreciation Week and said “the board would like to join with everyone in showing our appreciation for our classified staff.  The education of youth is essential to the future of our community, state, country, and world.  Classified employees are the backbone of our public education system.  They are the heart of the education process; they are part of our community; they work directly with students, educators, parents, volunteers, business partners, and community members and our community depends upon and trusts them to serve students.  Our classified employees, with their diverse talents and true dedication, nurture students throughout their school years.  We so appreciate our classified staff; we couldn’t do what we do for kids without you all.  From us to the classified staff, thank you very much!”

The Board then honored Charity Boyster, nominated by JCHS, as the District’s Volunteer of the Month.  A list of donations to the District was presented and acknowledged, and the District heard a report from the Teachers’ Association President Steve Tedrick and a JCHS report from Student Representative to the Board, Audrey Sherman.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis; there was a brief discussion about the status of the TES play shelter (it has been erected! The roof is on! The wall ball court has been constructed!) and the fact that the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Territorial community will be working together to plan an Open House to “show off” the shelter once it is completed.  The Open House theme will be a Barn Raising, where there will be fiddling, food, and dance.  At the Open House- which will be scheduled for later in March or early April- the members of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, the Project Management firm, architects from DLR, and relevant District staff also will be on hand to share information and answer questions about other bond projects.  Judy Kazmierkoski and Allen Schwiegert represented the CAC during this part of the board meeting to talk about their most recent meeting- held on Wednesday of last week.  Patrons should also note that minutes from the Citizens’ Advisory Committee’s meetings will be posted on the District’s website at some point next week.

The Bond Core team met earlier this week, and we are at the “95% completion” stage of the Construction Documents part of the project.  We had some further soils testing done at JCHS earlier this week to do some environmental lab analysis of the site for the addition, and we expect that we will be able to have a bid package out for General Contractors’ consideration later this month!  We hope to break ground later this spring, and to conduct site preparation work over the summer. The target time for completion of the high school addition is Summer of 2018. 

During the “Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items” section of the meeting, the board heard from Peggy Walter and Shannon Webster who asked the board to re-evaluate how the District accepts exchange students. The board asked Principal Malcom McRae to come to the next board meeting after having reviewed the policies governing the admission of foreign exchange students and let the board know if any changes or revisions are recommended.  Elementary Music Specialist Deborah Adams also addressed the board under public comment to share her concerns about what she- and some of her colleagues- see as the increasing needs of children in our Districts. She described that she sees more students with extreme behavioral challenges, particularly in the early grades- and that she would like to work with the District administration and Board to problem-solve about how better to serve these students. Ms. Adams is expected to make a brief presentation on this topic at the March board meeting. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on January 23rd (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also approved the list of Probationary/Temporary/ and Contract Staff for 2017-18, approved 2-year contracts for a group of Contract teachers, and approved 3-year contracts for several administrators who have obtained contract status.  The board also acted to approve a resolution adjusting appropriations between several Special Revenue Funds, approved the Lane Education Service District’s Local Service Plan for 2017-20, and approved the hiring of Kathryne Kent as the District’s newest special education teacher.  The board’s final action of the night was to approve the 2017-18 Open Enrollment Guidelines.  Interested parties should note that it is now Open Enrollment season, and those wishing to have their non-resident students attend the Junction City School District must submit an application to the District Office by the end of the day on April 3rd. 

The board then heard a presentation about the High School’s graduation rates, which have continued to improve almost every year, and continue to exceed the State average and the rates of many neighboring high schools.  The data presented at the meeting will be attached to the official minutes from the meeting after they are approved on March 20th. 

Next, the board heard a report about “School Climate” in our District, and learned that there will be survey of all middle and high school students conducted to get a better understanding of whether students feel safe at school, and to understand- and then address- instances of racism, bullying, or harassment that may be occurring in our schools.  Several board members (Waddell, Pratt and Gerdes) also attended a gathering that took place just before the board meeting that included District and building administrators, teachers and student representation. The purpose of the meeting was to have a discussion about what we can we do to be proactive in preventing racism and discrimination in our schools, and to plan next steps to further that goal. To that end, a number of the attendees at this meeting plan to work with members of the High School’s Social Justice League.  There also is talk about securing some “Peers as Allies” training for our students, and developing a mentoring program between high school students and elementary students.  The Board continues to affirm their commitment that our District prohibits any form of harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyber-bulling, and discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.  We ask that our staff work together to increase our students’ and parents’ awareness of relevant Board policies, reporting procedures, and consequences for violating these policies.  To that end, all relevant policies have been posted on the front page of the District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/ under a “hot button” that says “Junction City School District Non-Discrimination Policies”; all District staff are directed to read, understand, and follow these policies.  Students and parents who wish to initiate a report of harassment or discrimination are invited to contact the District’s Human Right’s Officer, Tom Endersby at tendersby@junctioncity.k12.or.us or 541-998-6311.  Such reports will be investigated and responded to in a manner commensurate with the findings of the investigation. 

The board also heard a brief financial report and a student enrollment update. Staff should be on the lookout for an email from me next week regarding the State’s proposed State School Funding levels for 2017-19. We will need to work together to advocate for a level of funding that can sustain our District’s staff levels, keep valued programs, and support our work in meeting the needs of every student. 

Have a wonderful weekend!



Students have constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We expect that students exercise these rights in a non-disruptive and peaceful way, and at a time, and in a place and manner that meets that expectation.

Yesterday, a group of student leaders informed school officials that they intended to participate in today's national day of immigration. The students were proactive and responsible for prearranging their absences and making arrangements to make up their work. Students were encouraged to discuss their plans with their families and secure their permission.

Our district is committed to safe, healthy, and discrimination-free learning environments. Policies about student absences can be found in the student handbook. The District's nondiscrimination, anti-bullying, and harassment policies and reporting procedures can be found in the district website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/policies/NonDiscrimination.html.  Parents with questions pertaining to their own children are encouraged to contact school administration.

November 2016
I hope you all had a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving weekend! I can’t believe that the end of the first trimester of the 2016-17 school year is already upon us.  A reminder to all that there will be no school for students next Monday and Tuesday, December 5th and 6th.  Teachers will be working on their grades, participating in professional development activities, and hosting parent-teacher conferences at Territorial Elementary.  Students will return to school on Wednesday, December 7th and then Christmas Break is around the corner. Our schools and District Office will be closed from December 19th until staff and students return on Tuesday, January 3rd.

There also are reports of possible inclement weather next week. Please be sure that you are subscribed to receive messages from “Blackboard Connect” (if you are not sure, you can check with Ronda Wheadon by emailing her at rwheadon@junctioncity.k12.or.us )  You can also check our website (http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/) for information on snow routes, and to see notices regarding delays and closures when they are in effect. 

What follows is the November 2016 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from last night’s school board meeting.   Happy reading, and stay warm!

Territorial’s Annual Food Drive is underway with boxes of donated, non-perishable food items filling the school’s entrance.  Food donations will be used for holiday baskets that will be distributed to local families through the Goldson Grange and Food for Lane County this season.

Our Coordinated Approach to Child Health or CATCH team, kicked off program activities at Territorial this month, as teachers and students used program materials to learn about and discuss the importance of healthy eating and exercise.  Second grade teacher Annette Sisler introduced the school to the CATCH program during our November 7th Bobcat assembly.  In addition to sharing staff CATCH cards, Mrs. Sisler led the whole school in an aerobic dance.  That afternoon, each class used whole foods to make a fun, healthy and yummy snack.  Classroom teachers implemented CATCH program health lessons at each grade level, while P.E. teacher Rebecca Smith integrated CATCH activities into her P.E. lessons.  Additionally, Wendy Erickson created a “Go”, “Slow”, and “Whoa” foods bulletin board which has been a great conversation starter for our students and parents.    The CATCH team has plans to continue the conversations started this month as well as plan for additional school-wide activities related to promoting healthy eating and an active lifestyle using the CATCH program materials.

The Taste for Territorial Dinner, Art Sale and Auction held on November 18th, was a huge success.   This TPA sponsored event brought in nearly $6,000 and provided an opportunity for students and families to spend time together enjoying food and fellowship.   Everyone was wowed by the displayed art work and there was healthy bidding on a variety of donated items including a custom fire pit, garden cart basket, spa package, coast trip, and duck hunting excursion to name a few.  Many thanks to the volunteers who worked to put on this fabulous community FUNdraiser, as well as those business partners who supported these efforts with donations of goods and services! A delicious dinner was provided by the Viking Inn.   As a result of the tireless efforts of our Territorial Parent Association and other generous volunteers, we are well on our way to generating the substantial funding needed to support our upcoming Outdoor School Activities.

Territorial teachers are excited about the prospect of adopting updated and aligned Science Curriculum this year.  To that end, teaching staff are working to identify and review available curriculum options as well as other resources to support implementation of Next Generation Science Standards in classrooms throughout the school.  Earlier this month, Pam Nelson and Cheryl Glasser attended an NGSS Science workshop in Albany, while Elyse Elder spent Veteran’s Day weekend at the National Science conference in Portland.  Elyse shared information and materials from the conference with staff on November 16th as part of our Early Release professional development activities.  Coming up, we have arranged for Bob Curtis from the Lane ESD to provide additional training around NGSS standards during the January 11th Early Release.

As the first trimester comes to a close, teachers are preparing for completion of report cards as well as scheduling parent teacher conferences which will take place on the evening of December 5th and throughout the day on December 6th.  This is a great opportunity to make the connections necessary to support student success.  Teachers are hoping for 100% turnout this year!

In the spirit of the season Principal Dina Marschall would like to express her thankfulness; she is “thankful to be part of a school, district, and community that cares about and works to support students and families like no other”.

Laurel students raised $1500 in donations for our annual Turkey Drive. Because of our community’s generous contributions, we were able to extend the gift of giving and share Thanksgiving meals with 35 Laurel families. What a great way to teach our students about giving, compassion, and gratitude, which are skills that we instill in our students through the Laurel Vision. This event- along with the recent cookie dough fundraiser that brought more than $10,000 in proceeds- are great examples of the wonderful community in which we work.

Laurel staff have developed a plan to keep the Laurel Vision present and alive by taking each component of our vision and dividing them out over the months of the school year and generated ideas of how to teach them to kids. For example, the November/December focus is on “each student is actively engaged.” We teach students that every student is important, and every student deserves an equitable learning opportunity.

All of Laurel’s grade level teams have articulated a plan for using the new Chrome books for math and other subject matters. It has been such a rewarding experience to be able to provide our students with the opportunity to integrate technology into the learning experience. Furthermore, we now have a promethean board in every first through fourth grade classroom! Teachers are able to be innovative in their lesson delivery and as a result, students’ learning experience is enriched.

Laurel teachers will be spending their December 6th professional development day participating in a series of flash trainings focused on topics that the teachers have identified as areas they would like to receive professional development on. During that day, teachers are going to rotate through the selected offerings that is most relevant to them and that are delivered by our own staff. We are happy to use this structure to our teachers’ choices and to build a sustainable model for professional development.

Laurel staff would like to extend an invitation to our community to come join our upcoming Family Fun Nights. Each month we have an event that highlights a certain important aspect of our students’ well-being, education, and over-all success. Here is a snap shot of those events: 

December- Catch Dance Fever: A night full of healthy snack, movement, and dance
January- Lego Night: A night of creation, creativity, and fun
February- Bingo Night: an ALL-TIME favorite… Play and win lots of cool surprises
March- Dr. Seuss Literacy Night: An event full of cool books and love for reading
April- Math and science night: Calling all scientists and mathematicians of Junction City
May- Carnival: A night of pure fun!!
June- Field Day

At Oaklea, the staff, student body, and Parent Group worked together to serve our JC community this holiday season.  We are happy to report that the staff and students collected just over $1000 for our Thanksgiving Dinner coin drive.  Over 20 families received the meal boxes loaded with turkey, pies, sparkling cider, and all the trimmings.  A special thanks to Counselor Angie Elstone and the Oaklea Parent Group for organizing this service to our community.  We are also excited to share that hundreds of dollars in clothing items were given to local families at the Clothing Outreach Project last week.  Clothing and shoes have been collected over the past month, and our cafeteria tables were loaded with goods for families to choose from this past Tuesday night.  Middle school is a time for students to learn empathy, cultural & community awareness, and service.  These November projects have really helped us highlight all of these traits.

With the recent release of school report cards by the ODE, Oaklea staff celebrated the achievements that have been made by our students, particularly in the area of Academic Growth in math and language arts.  Two years ago, we received a Level 2 designation in this important area.  In 2015-16, our students had a Level 4 designation in Growth.  This is the second highest level in this area, and although the state will not be issuing an overall rating this school year, we are striving to assist our students in continuing to make great improvements in academic achievement.

Oaklea’s Fall Family Fun Night took place on November 10th, with dozens of families coming to the building for games, activities, and the Book Fair.  Our Parent Group has done an excellent job organizing these family events, drawing parents, students, and community members closer to our school.

On December 1st, ODE’s Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Salam Noor, will be visiting Oaklea Middle School to take a look at the Journalistic Learning Initiative project our 6th graders are working on.  This project partners with the University of Oregon's Journalism department to provide opportunities for students to experience journalism.  Students will be conducting distance interviews with professionals throughout the nation using Skype.  Dr. Noor has been appointed by the governor to lead our state's department of education and we are honored to have him as our guest.  Special thanks to Sherrene Kulm, 6th grade teacher, for organizing this meaningful experience for our kids.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce for recognizing Assistant Principal Steve Jones as the Junction City Educator of the Year. His contributions are nothing short of inspirational, and his recognition is well-deserved.

Our College & Career Center has been extremely busy as students worked to meet the new- and much earlier- FAFSA deadline. Three students gained “instant” admission to the University of Oregon, and the scholarship application season is in full swing.

JCHS Music presented a combined concert with students from all grades the day before the general election in front of a full house in the WW Gym. The patriotic theme was an inspired and welcome break from partisan politics.

JCHS Theater completed a three-day run of the “Little Women” including a special matinee performance featuring a complete cast of understudies. (Hopefully Audrey Sherman will bring a student’s eye view of the performances.)

The Tri-1 Breakfast of Champions will begin at 7:00am sharp tomorrow morning as staff recognizes students nominated for a variety of positive contributions to the school climate and individual efforts in overcoming personal adversity. It’s a great opportunity for students to be recognized before their parents and peers over a continental breakfast. Special thanks to Kristi Stahl for organizing this event, Leslie Lucir for hosting in her culinary arts classroom, and additional support from Alison Hellwege and Tye Rauschert.

Congratulations to our fall sport athletes and coaches. Cross-Country sent both the Girls’ and Boys’ teams to the State Meet after they each took second place at the Sky-Em District Meet. In addition, Girls’ Soccer won the first Sky-Em title in school history before being knocked out of the state playoffs in overtime.

As you know, this week brings the first trimester to a close with final exams this coming Thursday and Friday. This is also the kickoff week for winter athletics, so now it’s on to winter sports with live competition beginning this Wednesday with the girls’ and boys’ basketball jamborees. A full slate of swimming, wrestling, and basketball competition will many Tiger athletes in action throughout the winter.
Now, turning to news from Monday night’s board meeting- after hearing the Monthly Report from each of our schools, and a report from JCHS Student Board Representative Audrey Sherman, the board received a letter from the Junction City Education Association indicating their desire to meet to negotiate a successor agreement to the current contract between our licensed staff association and the school board.  The current contract expires at the end of June, 2017. The board affirmed their interest in starting negotiations this winter with the hope that a successor agreement can be in place before the expiration of the current agreement.

During the “Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items” section of the meeting, the board heard from several high school staff members, a student, and several parents about the “climate” in our schools- even at the elementary level- in the days and weeks following the election and multiple instances of harassment, bullying and discrimination directed at some of students of color.  The student who spoke has been a part of our District since kindergarten, and reported feeling unsafe at school for the first time during the student’s tenure in the District.  The teachers reported noticeable tension amongst the student body, and a feeling of a lack of clear direction about how they should respond when hearing of reports of harassment or discrimination.  District leadership reported feeling unprepared for what they saw and heard from students, and in some instances, from staff.  

In the 2 days following the election, the District issued a letter to parents, an email communication to staff, and posted information on our District’s website about our commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming learning environment for each and every member of our student body.  Expectations for appropriate student behavior were also restated, and we asked parents for their support and assistance in this matter.  Visits were made to each classroom at Oaklea to discuss with students behavioral expectations, and the fact that while students have the right to free speech and differing opinions it is not acceptable to exercise that right in a way that is hurtful to others, discriminatory, or disruptive to the learning environment.  The administration at the high school made several all-school announcements of this same nature, appealed to all students to unite as Tigers, and to invite students who had experienced negative, hurtful, harassing or discriminatory actions or words from others to share their experiences in writing.  There were conversations as warranted with individual students at our elementary schools.

 What was clear from hearing the public comment was that we still have students who are not feeling safe at school. We have had instances of race/nation of origin based discrimination occurring in our hallways, classrooms, and parking lots.  We have had staff unsure of how best to respond to these issues.  Whatever we- as school leaders and staff- did following the election was not enough to restore our positive school climate and ensure that all our students- especially those who are members of protected classes- feel safe, welcome, and supported in our schools.  

After this discussion, the board affirmed their commitment that our District prohibits any form of harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyber-bulling, and discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.  The board asked that District leadership ensure that board policies and regulations governing these matters be again shared and discussed with all staff.  The board also asked that we increase our students’ and parents’ awareness of these policies, reporting procedures, and consequences for violating these policies.  To that end, all relevant policies have been posted on the front page of the District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/ under a “hot button” that says “Junction City School District Non-Discrimination Policies”; all District staff are directed to read, understand, and follow these policies.  Students and parents who wish to initiate a report of harassment or discrimination are invited to contact the District’s Human Right’s Officer, Tom Endersby at tendersby@junctioncity.k12.or.us or 541-998-6311.  Such reports will be investigated and responded to in a manner commensurate with the findings of the investigation. 

 Today, the District’s Equity Leadership Team (comprised of licensed, classified, administrative and District Office staff) met as previously scheduled and discussed this matter further. They will be issuing a set of recommendations to the District leadership team, and will work with building level administrators on action plans to be implemented at each school to ensure that students (and their parents) clearly understand expectations for their conduct, the process for reporting a concern, and accountability measures for violations of district policy. The ELT is continuing their work on a school climate survey that will be administered to all students so that student responses can inform further action on the part of District leadership and staff.

Tomorrow, the District’s Administrative Team will be meeting to further discuss this issue, review all policies and reporting procedures, conduct a “self-evaluation” according to a Civil Rights best practice checklist, and plan for strategies for related staff development activities and parent and student communications in both the short term and the long term.  As members of our school community, we invite you to help us create and sustain school cultures where each and every child feels safe and supported, students’ learning is free of disruption from harassment or discrimination, and every student and staff member understands their responsibility for creating a sustaining a positive school culture. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on October 24th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  The board accepted the resignation of Laurel 3rd grade teacher, Jessica Huff, who is leaving the area as a result of her spouse’s job relocation. The board also very reluctantly accepted the retirement of long-time Junction City Educator- and current Laurel Elementary Music Specialist- Deborah Adams.  Deborah will continue working for the District through June of 2017; she will be missed so very much when she retires and will leave a remarkable legacy of joyful service to our students and community.

The board’s final action of the night was to award the contract for installation of the Territorial Play Shelter to 2G Construction; the materials are on site at Territorial and the contract specifies that the shelter should be completed by the end of December. 

With respect to Discussion Items, the board heard an update about the bond from Scott Rose of DLR.  The board heard from community members and Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) members Ken Bells and Billy Dover and learned more about their first meeting.  As previously reported, this committee will have responsibility for reviewing expenditures and progress related to our Facilities Bond; it is expected that the Committee will have a representative or two make regular reports to the board. It also is hoped that these committee members will help keep our entire community accurately well-informed on these matters. 

The board received a “Focus School Report” from Laurel Elementary Principal Nadira Rizkallah.  The board was delighted to offer their congratulations and appreciation to the Laurel staff for all their hard work, which has resulted in Laurel exiting Focus School status because of gains that have been made in school improvement goals. Well done!

The final discussion item for the evening was with respect to Measure 98.  On November 8th, Oregon’s Measure 98- the “High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act”- received overwhelming support from voters.  The Measure is intended to provide “direct funding” to Districts for implementation of programs designed to increase high school graduation rates, prevent dropouts, and better prepare students for careers and college.  While the rules have not yet been written, the intent of the Measure is to provide funding for programs that will improve graduation rates- such as establishing or expanding CTE programs, establishing or expanding college-level educational preparation programs and opportunities, and those programs that are proven to reduce dropouts. 

Assuming the State’s May 2017 revenue estimate is 1.5B greater than the May 2015 revenue estimate, our District would receive approximately $800 per high school student- upon completion of an approved application for these funds. For our District, this could mean about $400K in revenue for the purpose of implementing this measure.  The actual net impact on our budget is difficult to predict right now, and is complicated by the fact that the state is currently facing a 1.4+B shortfall and we have very little information about what level of State School funding we should plan on for the 2017-19 biennium. Worst case scenario might be that our overall SSF declines, and we would have to make reductions in other programs in order to meet the requirements of Measure 98.  Best case scenario that we can expect- based on my understanding of the State’s fiscal outlook at this time- is that the state is able to keep our “regular” K-12 funding at a level that would provide for roll-ups enough to maintain current programs, and then the Measure 98 funds would be truly additive. 

I will be attending a State Superintendents’ meeting this Wednesday, and the annual School Law conference on Thursday and Friday.  I will be looking for sessions that can help inform our District’s implementation of Measure 98.  My recommendation will be that we stay on top of updates coming out of ODE and plan to have a board work session in February to discuss how our District should implement this measure. To inform that work session, we should engage our high school students, our staff, and our community in surveying where we should plan to expand or develop programs to increase graduation rates and improve access to CTE programs and college readiness.   The most recent FAQ sheet from ODE regarding Measure 98 was sent out last Wednesday; a copy of the FAQ can be obtained by contacting the District Office.

There is much to accomplish between now and Christmas break. I encourage our students and our staff to keep working hard, growing, and working together to make our District the best place it can be for each and every student.



What follows is the October 2016 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from last Monday night’s school board meeting.  Happy reading, and have a safe and fun Halloween tonight!

Excitement is building with the Bond-funded outdoor covered play shelter components delivered recently.  Students and staff alike are eagerly anticipating the end of indoor “Rainy Day Recess” at Territorial!

From the successful Scholastic Book Fair and Open House/Curriculum Night to the annual Jog-a-Thon which has already raised over $1,000 for school programs and activities it's clear Territorial and our ever-involved and supportive parent group is off and running this year!  Coming up, the TPA will sponsor an all-school Harvest Party on the afternoon of October 31st, with the Taste of Territorial spaghetti feed and art show scheduled to take place on November 18th at the Long Tom Grange.

October marked the start of multiple after-school programs at Territorial including; Garden Club, LEGO Club, OBOB, and Yearbook.  So far, students in the Garden Club have harvested strawberries and tomatoes, viewed compost material through a microscope- identifying micro-organisms that live within the compost- winterized both garden spaces, and participated in a variety of garden related games and activities.  Students in LEGO Club are presented with a LEGO challenge weekly, providing opportunities for small groups to learn about and demonstrate a variety of skills related to teamwork, creativity, and sportsmanship.  At the conclusion of each club meeting, LEGO creations are collected and displayed in the hallway for the week.   New this year at Territorial is the addition of LEGO League activities for our older students who are learning about programming robots to complete predetermined tasks and challenges.  These students will compete in a LEGO League tournament in December.  Oregon Battle of the Books and Yearbook activities also got underway this month and look to be generating a lot of excitement among involved students.

On another note, our grant-purchased iPads are on campus and in use in classrooms K-5, bringing us up to 8 iPads per classroom, with additional devices deployed in our Special Education/ELD classroom as well as in our Music and PE programs.  Teachers are finding a variety of ways to use these devices to enhance student access to core curriculum and materials as well as for research, demonstration of skill and intervention and enrichment.  A huge thank you to the District Technology staff, Bob and Laci, for getting these processed and out to us so quickly, and also to parent volunteer Wendy Thelander for her work getting the barcodes registered in the computer system so that the iPads could be checked out to teachers.

Our 4th & 5th grade students- along with several staff and parent volunteers- had the opportunity to participate in a fun and exciting Coast field trip to Newport, facilitated by “Maritime Discovery Tours”.  The group of about 50, headed out to sea observing and learning about sea life first hand, including whales, jelly fish, porpoises, sea lions, crabs and plankton.  This trip was the result of Ms. Elder’s great luck as she won the tour in a drawing at a Science conference last year.  Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade students enjoyed a trip to Wintergreen Farms where they visited the Pumpkin Patch, selecting their very own pumpkin to bring home.

Beyond that, Territorial’s Fall Easy CBM benchmark testing wrapped up earlier this month, with staff coming together for a school-wide data meeting on October 13th.  We looked at student scores in both Math and Reading and used this information to plan for interventions to support student growth and enrichment.  We continue to be excited about the turnaround in math scores and improvement in achievement over the past few years and will focus on continuing to identify the best resources and strategies to elicit similar outcomes in reading going forward. 

Laurel has great news to share with regard to our Focus School designation. Oregon’s Department of Education recently released school report cards.  We should be very proud of the progress Laurel has made; it's a tribute to the very hard work of our students and staff. While schools were not rated this year, we received a Level 4 in Academic Achievement with Level 5 being the highest score. Given this score, Laurel met the criteria to exit Focus School status. This is cause for celebration for our students, staff, families and the community at large. In looking at other scores we received, we realize that there is still work to be done in the area of Academic Growth and Student Group Growth. All of the Focus and Priority Schools received a 5th year of funding, which provides us an extra layer of support for the current school year. This means we still have a coach (Jennifer Haliski), access to professional development through the Regional Rural Schools Network, and funds to support our Focus School priorities. The Laurel staff understands that it is important that we make the most of this 5th year!  To achieve greater growth and improve our scores, we have decided to focus on the following aspects to ensure progress.

We have adopted a growth mindset and put a major focus on what we do best - teaching kids! Through our school’s vision and the research-based strategies we are using to instill a growth mindset in our staff and students, we are confident that we will improve achievement for ALL students, including our sub groups. There is great buy-in from students and staff into this paradigm shift and a whole new way of looking at reasons for growth and how best to impact students’ learning. 

Another area of focus this year is on our Positive Behavior Support System. We revised and updated our systems to reflect the growth mindset and a desire for each and every student to feel a sense of belonging, and to have caring and strong relationships with peers and school adults. While this is a shift in viewing how discipline works, it is proving to be very effective in keeping kids present at school and engaged in the learning. We identified our collective understanding of why we discipline students, and that is to reconnect them to their learning and their school community. We do this with compassion, care, and a desire to understand each child’s story. Our staff at Laurel is working really hard to embrace this way of thinking. We have put systems in place to celebrate students and staff who show commitment to these shifts and therefore contribute a positive school culture where we all can thrive and grow.

We’ve started practicing our safety drills to highlight and emphasize safety procedures for a variety of emergency situations. Fostering a safe learning environment is at the core of the Laurel’s vision and we are focusing on teaching this concept throughout the month of October and in the months to come. In addition to fire, earthquake, lockdown/lockout, and evacuation drills, we teach students that social-emotional safety is also important. We talk about friendship, compassion, and caring for one another. We explain that a safe learning environment is the right of each and every student and that we are all responsible to make sure we contribute to such an environment. We invite our community to support us in this endeavor; building a strong partnership will help strengthen our kids, our school, and our community.

Finally, Laurel is having a Harvest Spirit Day on October 31st. Students are invited to dress up in Harvest-themed costumes and show their autumn spirit. We invite you to join us in this fun celebration.

At Oaklea, we have been striving to get our students thinking about college and careers at an early age.  This past week, we hosted “College Knowledge Night” in our main gym.  Parents and students had a chance to listen to reps from several local universities and community colleges.  After the presentations, guests visited tables, asked questions, and gathered "swag" from all of the schools.  We would like to thank Liz Bolton and Courtney Madsen for attending and helping to answer questions about high school, scholarships, and what to do in middle school to prepare. We would like to personally thank our counselor, Angie Elstone, for her work to organize this event.
Throughout the month of October, we practiced our emergency procedures for lockdown, lockout, earthquake preparedness, evacuation, and fire drill.  Our safety committee values the importance of making sure our staff and students know the procedures.  Our school resource officer, Ken Jackson, and the JC police department have been present to evaluate our emergency plans and to provide feedback.  Students enjoyed participating in the Great Oregon Shakeout with thousands of other students in the state on 10/20 at 10:20 AM.

Fall Parent -Teacher Conferences will took place this past Wednesday evening as well as Thursday.  This was a great opportunity for parents to meet with teachers and learn more specific information about individual student progress and what students will be learning this school year.

Spirit Week coincided with the JCHS Homecoming celebration this past week, as students took part in dress up days, a schoolwide assembly, and wearing the color Orange on Unity Day to stand up for demonstrating kindness, compassion, and respectful non-violent treatment of our peers.  Unity Day is part of the national Bully Prevention Month.

This past week, students participated in the national Drug & Alcohol prevention program called Red Ribbon Week.  Students were invited to pledge to be substance free, and students saw numerous examples of positive mentors making a similar pledge in TEAM class.  As a heads up to parents, our Fall Family Fun Night will be Thursday, November 10th at 6pm., with the Scholastic Book Fair taking place in the building along with all kinds of fun activities.

In combination with our Turkey Dinner Drive for families in our JC Community, Jamie Williams is organizing a clothing drive to support our families.  If you are interested in donating, please call the Oaklea office.

The October question at JCHS is, “Where did this month go?”

More than 160 students were represented by family at parent-teacher conferences this month. Parking was tight that evening as Girls’ Soccer and Volleyball hosted matches that evening, but it was another opportunity to showcase student sparks, and free game admissions were provided to families who came to conferences.

Over the past month, students participated in an orderly bus evacuation drill and completed the annual PSAT exam without a hitch last week. Liz Bolton and Brian Miller took 80 students to the College Fair at the University of Oregon, and another sizable group got their hands dirty at the Construction and Engineering Fair at EWEB.

Lastly, students punctuated this special month with the completion of Homecoming last week. One hundred percent of the credit belongs to student body officers Caitlyn Victor, Audrey Sherman, Rachel Meighan, Ryan Meighan, Nick Hogan, and Kyle Moore.  Without their selfless work behind the scenes in pre-dawn meetings, their willingness to forego lunches, and time invested after athletic practices and games, the Homecoming experience for the students of JCHS would have been sorely lacking.  This may be a little bit long, but they weren’t the only significant contributors, and JCHS would like to recognize Kieley Leatherwood, Lexi Tishmack, Ben Swancutt, Ara Tedrick, Kyla Lenker, Jesse McClintock, Trae Knabe, Melanie Hanb, Jessica Puderbaugh, Travis Wheeler, Johnny Wheeler, Garrett Spangle, the many many parents who helped construct and present the class floats, the Junction City Fire Department, the Junction City Police Department, Craig Rothenberger, Steve Jones, Brian Miller, and the many others who worked behind the scenes without recognition.

Football won their homecoming game over Sutherlin, 42-7 and finished tied for 3rd in the Sky-Em League. A coin flip tiebreaker put them in fourth place and likely just out of the post-season play-in round.  Tiger Cross-Country participated at the District Championships at LCC on Oct 27 with the boys’ team the form chart favorites.  Finally, congratulations to JC Tigers Girls’ Soccer, outright winners of the Sky-Em League Championship. The Tigers will skip the play-in round and host a 1st round OSAA playoff game at Willamette High School tomorrow night, November 1st.

Go Tigers!

Now, turning to news from last Monday night’s board meeting- with respect to action items, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on September 26th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  The board also very reluctantly accepted the retirement of long-time Junction City Educator- and current JCHS Assistant Principal, Steve Jones.  Steve will continue working for the District through June of 2017.   In the meanwhile, the District hopes to leverage Mr. Jones’s considerable expertise as we explore establishing our own Online Learning Options program for students K-12 beginning next year.   The board also acted to approve a calendar for preparation of the 2017-18 District Budget.

At Monday night’s meeting, the board also acted to name the appointees to the District’s “Citizens’ Advisory Committee”.  This new committee will have responsibility for reviewing expenditures and progress related to our Facilities Bond; it is expected that the Committee will have a representative or two make regular reports to the board. It also is hoped that these committee members will help keep our entire community accurately well-informed on these matters. There were 6 very outstanding applicants for the Citizens Advisory Committee: Ken Bells, Billy Dover, Mike Kaiser, Judy Kazmierkoski, Allan Schweigert and Lynda Taylor.  The board met in a brief work session just prior to the board meeting to review and discuss these applications; given the caliber of the applicants, the board unanimously approved naming all 6 of these applicants to the committee.

In Discussion Items, Board Member Tina Nash and I reported out from the OSBA Dinner and Regional Meeting that we recently attended.  The OSBA’s Priorities and Legislative Agenda were shared, and they also can be found on the Oregon School Board Association’s website at http://osba.org/~/media/Files/Resources/Legislative/2017-18%20Legis_%20Policies_Priorities-approved%20by%20LPC%208-22-16.pdf

The Board also heard an update about the Oregon Rising Project. Last spring, I asked the board, our staff, and members of several local service organizations to respond to the Oregon Rising survey.  The results are back, and the final report has been published.  Nearly 11,000 Oregonians responded to the survey, and there was representation from every area of our state.

These Oregonians shared their thoughts, and their hearts, about our students and our schools and they were in remarkable agreement.  “They value education, and they are not satisfied with the status quo.  They want more for our students.  Simply put, they believe that the gap between what Oregon students need and what Oregon is giving them is far too large” (Craig Hawkins, COSA, 9/27/2016).  Respondents overwhelmingly prioritized adding teachers and staff to ensure students get the individual attention, and smaller class sizes, they need to be successful.  They also agreed that Oregon students deserve a well-rounded education, with CTE opportunities, art and music, civics and culture and more.   You can see the entire Oregon Rising Project Report and other information at http://www.oregon-rising.org/What-Oregon-Said

The board also received the October Student Enrollment Report, which is down 3 students from the beginning of the year; last year that same time period saw a decline of 16 students.  One of the issues with student enrollment that was surfaced for a future board work is the issue of students enrolled in Online Charter programs such as Baker Web Academy.  In years past, when parents homeschooled their children or used other online programs, we were able to offer their children part-time attendance in our schools so that they could take a class or two and participate in student activities such as band or enrichment. Unfortunately, online charter schools such as Baker’s will not share student enrollment ADM with us and therefore we are unable to offer their students participation in our classes. 

Other Lane County Districts are facing this same challenge; in fact, South Lane School District developed their own K-12 online option so that families could elect to use a “hybrid” approach like we did for so long with homeschoolers. Online students enrolled in South Lane District’s program may take classes at their schools, while those enrolled in online charters such as Baker Web Academy cannot. South Lane also uses a tiered fee structure for Online Charter School students’ participation in sports and other activities. Because the online charter students are not part of their resident District’s State School Fund revenue- but this revenue is used to support athletics and student activities- South Lane charges more (I believe double the regular fee) for online charter students to participate.  Students in South Lane’s own online program have the same fees as students in their brick and mortar schools.  

Steve Jones and Ronda Wheadon have been charged with working together to explore options for our District offering our own K-12 online programming next year so that students in that program could also participate in classes and programs at our schools.  They will be examining the South Lane program, as well as the Lebanon School District’s program and perhaps others.  Once they have gathered information and begun to formulate some recommendations, the board will have a work session to discuss these issues and determine if we should go down that road. 

The Board also heard an update about Bond Work.  We have received all the materials for the Territorial Play Shelter!  Because we are out to bid for the installation, the time frame for completion is unknown at this time. The play shelter will  be the first bond project to be completed and we will definitely have an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony when it is done. 

We are getting near the end of our Schematic Design planning phase for the high school addition. It is really starting to take shape and it is so incredibly exciting that we will be able to consolidate the campus with this addition, rather than waiting until a future phase of our District’s long-range plan. It has been great to get involvement from different “end users”, such as students, parents and HS staff members.  We do have an updated Bond Projects timetable spreadsheet (copies are available in the District Office), and we are working with DLR and a cost estimator to determine what we should budget for the increased scope of the HS work, and how we should budget for the other priorities that were identified for the capital matching and bond premium funds.   Updates about the Bond process are posted regularly on our District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/  

In other facility news, we have submitted our application for the State Seismic Retrofit grant program and will keep our fingers crossed that this proposal is funded.  We will wait to learn that before launching into planning Oaklea’s mechanical system upgrades and cedar shake siding replacement as if we get the grant that work will have to be coordinated.

In addition to keeping the board, our staff, and our community involved in and apprised of our bond projects and facilities issues, we also are trying to keep the City very much in the loop. We had an extensive survey of the high school property done so we have detailed information about locations of city utilities, etc. and we plan to work closely with both the City’s Code consultant, Clair Company, and the fire department and fire marshal to make sure that we are proactive about aspects of our bond projects that may be impacted by their requirements.  On a related note, Chris and I met recently with the City Administrator and Public Works Director to discuss a well the city owns that is essentially land-locked by District property. The City would like to improve their access to the well so that they are more easily able to service the well.  We will be talking about a solution that may involve the City removing the 2 car-garage on District property just to the north of the Pitney Center; we also will be considering allowing them to improve access to the well via a curb cut on Maple, and possibly resurfacing the grassy area north of the Pitney Center.  Of course, we will bring any Inter-Governmental agreement proposals to you for consideration prior to taking any action.  We think that working together with the City is a good thing for our community as a whole.
Warm Regards,

Superintendent, JCSD

Engage Inspire Educate

District Office Phone: (541) 998-6311
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