JUNCTION CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT UPDATE

JUNCTION CITY SCHOOLS UPDATE:

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January 2019
Happy 2019 to you and yours! Junction City Schools are back in full swing after the holiday break, and aside from a recent delayed start due to weather conditions and some snow route modifications, we’ve been dealing pretty well with the winter weather. 
 
We are beyond thrilled to have staff and students fully occupying the new JCHS addition, and while there continue to be some final items to resolve- including completion of landscaping and the outdoor amphitheater area in front of the building- we are settling in and making the most of the great new teaching and learning environment.  I am excited to share with you news from around the District and from the January board meeting, so…. Read on.
 
TERRITORIAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The New Year is well underway at Territorial, and our students and staff continue to approach the tasks of teaching and learning with great enthusiasm and purpose.  Easy CBM Winter Benchmark assessments wrapped up February 8th, with teachers meeting to review school-wide data the following week.  Preliminary results from Territorial’s Winter Benchmark Easy CBM assessments show that students who have already completed the assessments are demonstrating growth in both math and reading.  We are excited to see the growth; we know that it is not just about the data- but rather about our individual students and what this opportunity for learning, growth and achievement will mean for them over time.  Undoubtedly, this is a direct result of the rigorous and focused instruction provided by teachers every day, as well as the hard work and perseverance of our students, in addition to the support of their families. 
 
As part of Territorial’s CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Program we kicked off the New Year with a two-week focus on nutrition and healthy choices.  Students were able to earn CATCH “MVP” tickets for choosing health snacks or doing an exercise challenge at recess such as jumping jacks, jump rope, hula hoops, laps around the track, or pushups; we even had MVP Records for the most done in each category.  Earned tickets were then placed in daily drawing for things such as a Frisbee, catch-a-ball, or a chance to play basketball with some of our high school athletes.  As part of the celebration, several high school athletes joined some very excited Territorial students for a little coaching and an exciting b-ball game with their peers watching and cheering them on from the sidelines. 
 
Another component of our CATCH kick-off celebration was to encourage families to prepare and eat healthy meals together.  Students and their families had an opportunity to win a $25 gift card to Groundworks a local farm.  Students earned raffle tickets for bringing in pictures of their families eating together, a healthy recipe that they prepared together, or a short story about the experience.    This was a fun way to include our parents in the CATCH challenge as well. 
 
The Territorial Parent Association has been busy preparing for and supporting a number of traditional activities, events and fundraisers.  In addition to hosting the Holiday Bazaar where students shopped for presents for their families prior to Winter Break, The TES parent group hosted a very successful BINGO night fundraiser earlier in January and the Scholastic Book Fair is scheduled to open the week of February 11th.  The Book Fair will coincide with our Grandparent’s Day activities scheduled for Thursday February 14th. 
 
Territorial would also like to thank our School Board for their time and efforts.  We are grateful to work with such dedicated individuals.  Thank you for all that you do for our Junction City students!           
 
LAUREL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
January was School Board Appreciation Month and Laurel took the opportunity to thank each and every Board member for their time, effort, and unwavering support for the children of our community.  As we reflect on our practices, decision-making, and passion, we feel grateful to be supported by Board members who always put children first.
 
During the month of January, Laurel focused on a very important and relevant component of our school’s vision and that is “Compassionate Citizens.” Students explored with one another- and with staff- ways we can show compassion. We work diligently as a Laurel community to support all of our students who come from diverse socio-economic, political, racial, and religious backgrounds. It remains our responsibility to ensure that every child feels loved, accepted, and important in our school. To that end, we launched a “Compassionate Hearts” movement with the goal of catching EVERY child being compassionate. Any student who exemplified the essence of this movement received a “compassionate heart” to recognize their kindness and caring for others.  
 
At Laurel, Everyday Counts; Attendance Matter! This is the slogan for the social media campaign that we are launching in February. Our Parent Advisory Committee is reaching out to a group of dedicated parents to ask them to join efforts and help us support this campaign. Our hope is to have the entire community spreading the message about the importance of being at school every day. Please be on the lookout for information that will be coming out through the Laurel website, paper flyers, and through social media. Our kids are counting on our community’s support and participation!
 
We recently completed another round of EasyCBM benchmark testing to measure students’ growth in language arts and math. Teachers will use this data to evaluate their effectiveness, tailor instruction to students’ needs, and make data-driven decisions for Walk to Read groups. In addition, we are preparing for the Smarter Balanced testing that will start in April/May, by ensuring that our technology is up and running, proctors are trained, and teachers have all that they need to administer the test. 
 
We’re preparing to start our SafeTouch curriculum in first through fourth grade classrooms. To kick this off, we are hosting a parent night during which the curriculum will be previewed and questions will be answered. Subsequently, our school counselor will teach the curriculum for 4 weeks. Parents are invited to request more information, obtain copies of the curriculum, or opt their student out from receiving this instruction. Stay tuned for more information.
 
Our teachers have been using the valuable time during Early Release to take a deeper look at standards, match their mastery objectives to those standards and ensure that there are formative assessments in place to measure students’ progress and plan interventions. We are grateful for this precious time, and our teachers have done a wonderful job working and learning together.   
 
Our Lego night was amazing this year. As always, our halls were full of students and their families, and fun was the highlight of the night. In addition, students were able to visit the book fair and enjoy shopping for their favorite books. There is nothing like seeing our community come together to have fun and share memories.
 
OAKLEA MIDDLE SCHOOL
Oaklea’s administration and staff celebrated January’s Schoolboard Appreciation Month by thanking the board for their hard work and continued belief in the collective efforts for staff and students within Oaklea and the district as a whole. 
 
We also want to recognize the great activity and achievement taking place at Oaklea both prior to break in December and throughout January;  staff and students are utilizing their opportunities to improve each day.  Students in Mrs. Doggett’s class have been helping and corresponding with an elementary class in Southern California.  Their work centered around a book, “Flat Stanley”, and his time in middle school.  Mrs. Doggett’s students have been sending stories to the elementary kids as if Flat Stanley himself were writing them.  Mrs. Walter’s students have been utilizing technology and Google Classroom as a way to provide instant feedback in math.  Oaklea 8th graders combined Science and Language Arts for an amazing unit of mock trials. The experience might well be the time they remember most, and we are already busy planning for future mock trials at Oaklea!
 
In Oaklea sports, the girls’ basketball teams wrapped up their seasons just before break.  The season provided both fun and improvement with players getting better each game.  The boys’ season began in January and we have a very large turnout – 24 players on both the 7th and 8th grade teams.  Wresting has concluded with a number of wrestlers competing at districts.  The Our Oaklea Robotics program has been doing very well and continues to prepare for more competitions. 
 
OBOB is underway and preparing for their “Big Event”- the Regional OBOB Tournament that will be held at Oaklea on Saturday, March 16th.  It takes many volunteers to pull off a successful tournament, so if you like kids and books and have some time, please contact OMS science teacher and OBOB Coach Stacy Johnson to sign up!
 
Earlier in January, Oaklea student leaders planned, organized, and set up a winter dance in that was a ton of fun.  These dances are always a reminder that safe, supervised opportunities for students to gather is healthy and fun.  Oaklea students also had an opportunity to audition for Missoula Children’s Theater production of The Frog Prince.  Students from all four grades were invited to attend grade level awards assemblies to celebrate successes from both third trimester of last year and first trimester of this year.  Teachers use the opportunity to award students for their individual achievements in different academic disciplines.  An impressive number of students were Honor Roll and Principal Award winners.
 
We’d like to thank the Oaklea Parent Group for their help in continuing the tradition of our extremely popular Winter Giving Store.  Hundreds of students purchased items with ‘Green Tiger Stripes’ (earned for positive and responsible behavior).  Many students give these items to family members during the holiday season.  In addition, staff members worked with our school counselor Angie Elstone put together a Winter Giving Tree to help support some families in our community.  We continue to have $100 worth of supplies donated every month to our school store by State Farm insurance agent Mike Pasterick.  His donation helps us place items in our school store that the students can purchase with Oaklea’s positive behavior ‘Green Tiger Stripes’. 
 
Northwest Community Credit Union recently awarded Mr. Thornton with a grant of $1,500 towards technology in his math classroom.  And our very own Scott Wickwire was the recipient of the New Country 93.3 Excellence in Education Award.  Scott was nominated by a parent for his hard work serving both staff and students in a proactive and positive way.  In addition to the award, Oaklea will now be in a drawing for $1,000 at the end of the school year. 
 
Oaklea’s OPG concluded our winter fundraiser just before break.  Students and families helped bring in money that will be used for classroom supports, field trips, equipment, and future assemblies.  Students who raised the most money participated in pizza lunches and some even earned the opportunity to duct tape Mr. Corey to a wall in the cafeteria.  
 
In a continued effort to create community within our school, students participated in a couple of dress-up days in December.  Holiday hat/sock day and the ever-popular ugly sweater day; both days showcased some extremely creative attire.  We culminated the week with an all school assembly of ‘Statues’- a tableau style activity where TEAMs had about 2 minutes to stage themselves as scenes from different movies.  Again, the creativity, comradery, and talents of our students were fun to see.  Staff have met to plan a framework of other similar events for the remainder of the year.  These silly events help bring the school together for some safe, healthy fun.
 
Last month offered our staff some training opportunities in iReady, our math curriculum on-line support system for students.  Oaklea staff continues to work in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to identify power standards.  This work is extremely time consuming, but we are already starting to see the benefits.  We as a staff are realizing short-comings of our past and these PLCs are allowing an opportunity to address them head on.  In addition to our Team Lead meetings at Oaklea, administrators and teacher-leaders also participated in another two days of training last week with representatives from Washington’s White River School District.  This training offers the Team time to learn, understand, and develop to better serve both staff and students.  We will continue to use Early Release time and Professional Development days to further this extremely important work so we can maximize the learning for everyone.
 
As we head into February we’ve got more engaging activities in classrooms, more sports, and more silly assemblies.  Progress reports will be coming out and another team of teachers from Oaklea and throughout the district will visit the White River School District in early March.  Finally, Mr. Corey asked me to share with you how wonderful and humbling it is to work in the kid-focused and service-oriented environment at Oaklea-every day our administrators witness the hard work on so many levels from so many people.  This is what it means to be a Tiger. 
 
JUNCTION CITY HIGH SCHOOL
The staff at Junction City High School would like to thank each of the JC School Board members for their volunteerism and service.  It is an honor and privilege to work with a Board that puts our kids first; it is apparent to all that every decision the board makes comes from that perspective; their service to our schools and community is deeply appreciated by JCHS Tiger staff and students.

The new year brought a new chapter for Junction City High School as our new main building opened for students and staff following return from the holiday break.  Science teachers waited patiently for two additional weeks, and after taking occupancy, all are enjoying the new space with students. 
 
Earlier in January, we welcomed parents and students for Winter Conferences, and many people were able to spend time walking throughout the new building and renovated West Wing spaces on a self-guided tour.  Students are enjoying the new common areas for collaboration and fellowship.  KMTR News also visited campus to see the new building and featured a story on their website.  We are looking forward to guided tours for the community in late February.  Once again, we want to thank our JC community for passing the Bond Measure and allowing our staff and students to work in the newest high school building in Oregon!
 
Our JC Robotics team dominated the district competition recently; we have invited representatives from the program to present at the February board meeting.  The JC Cheerleaders are into their competition season, and OHSET is just about ready to get underway as well.  We also have our Chess team competing this winter and traveling to various venues.  Winter sports are heading down the stretch in district play, with swimming, wrestling, and boys, and girls’ basketball competing.  We will be hosting our District wrestling meet on Friday, February 8th. 
 
The JCHS Hall of Fame banquet took place on January 19th, with several individuals being inducted, including Craig Lannom, Jason Haddy, Jamie (Breese) Jenson, Rich Milne, Ty Rothenberger, Bill Carson (class of 56), and the 1999 State Champion Golf Team.  This was an unforgettable night of storytelling, tears, laughs, and a reminder of the heritage we have at JCHS.
 
We are excited to announce that LCC professor Jim Garcia will be teaching a course called Puertas Abiertas this winter and spring.  This class will give some of our Latino and Latina students college and career readiness skills, as well as connections to other opportunities.  Jim asked for 10-15 students, and he graciously took in 16.  Our District’s Bilingual Resource Coordinator, Daniel Pozos was instrumental in recruiting students and introducing parents to Jim at an evening gathering.   
 
Relatedly, our community should be proud of an area of high performance in our District relative to the recently released high school graduation rates.  Junction City High School continues to have a higher percentage of students graduate in four years than the state average, but an area of excellence continues to be with respect to the graduation rates of our Latino/Hispanic students- the statewide grad rate average for this subgroup was 74.6% last school year; at Junction City High School 88% of our LatinX students graduated in four years!
 
DISTRICT NEWS
The afternoon of the January board meeting was also the kick off for the whirlwind that is the Missoula Children’s Theater! For at least the past 20 years, our District has collaborated with the Soroptimists International of Junction City to bring this amazing opportunity to our students from K through 12th grade.  Auditions were held that afternoon, and participating students rehearsed all week leading up to 2 performances of “The Frog Prince”.  Performances will took place at 3 and 7 PM on Saturday in the theater at Junction City High School and were enjoyed by all who attended.
 
In other District News, I would like everyone to be aware that the Open Enrollment law has sunset, which means that out-of-district patrons seeking placement for their children in our schools will need to go through the inter-district transfer process instead.  This is going to be a “hot topic” statewide; interest in attending our district continues to increase with Stephanie receiving dozens of calls in recent weeks from out-of-district parents who are hoping for their children to become JC Tigers.  Steph will be meeting with her job-alikes from other Lane County Schools soon so that we can craft a set of transfer practices that can be consistently implemented Countywide.
 
I spent several days last month at COSA’s Winter Conference; I am serving on the organization’s Executive Board again this year and as such have the opportunity to help shape professional practice statewide as well as impact legislative lobbying efforts on behalf of K-12.  At this point, it appears that the Governor’s proposed budget- and Oregon’s strong economy- will allow for a 2019-21 biennial funding level that will support the roll-up of our current service levels and programs.  In an upcoming election- probably in November 2019, Oregonians will likely have the opportunity to consider greater financial investments in our State’s public education system- which would potentially fund significant improvements in four key areas related to student success: (1) class size reduction and strategic staffing improvements, (2) increasing instructional time and/or adding instructional days for students, (3) offering students a well-rounded education including full funding for Measure 98, and (4) enhancing social-emotional, behavioral and mental health supports for Oregon’s children.  In the coming weeks, I will be seeking input from our board, staff, parents and patrons about their priorities in relation to funding in these various areas. 
 
Last year, COSA sponsored 3 inter-agency policy workgroups who tackled 3 key areas- (1) workforce development to increase diversity and support “grow-your-own educator” programs, (2) increasing access to preschool for Oregon’s children in poverty, and (3) improving our systems of support for students’ behavioral and mental health needs.  The work of those groups will be reflected in a series of bills that will be introduced in the legislature during this session. 
 
The policy workgroup process will now take on 3 new areas of focus this year- including (1) improving graduation rates statewide, (2) reducing chronic absenteeism, and (3) improving Oregon’s assessment and accountability systems.  Dina, Brian, and Nadira have all agreed to represent our district and participate in one or more of these workgroups this year.
 
BOARD MEETING NEWS 
The Board convened on Monday, January 28th, and the meeting began with lots of special recognition and many expressions of gratitude!  First, JCHS Head Custodian Mike Spoerl was recognized for exceptional service; Mike spent many, many hours during Christmas break (and before and after!) making sure that our new HS addition would be pristine, fully-furnished and ready for students and staff the day after break. 
 
JCHS Head Track Coach Jared Brougher and his colleagues were recognized for their great success in inspiring community volunteers- and obtaining significant grant funding and donations- to do an extensive update to the District’s track complex. It looks beautiful!  We ask for our community’s help and cooperation in keeping the track in great shape- by using the track outside of school/athletic event hours, using only the outside lanes, and never bringing dogs, strollers, bikes, skateboards and the like onto the track surface.  This was nearly a quarter-million-dollar investment and we want to see it last for decades!
 
Oaklea Middle School Assistant Principal Joy O’Renick also presented the board with information about the awesome experience recently provided to our 8th grade social studies students. Thanks to the efforts of a local judge, attorneys and others, students had a very meaningful “mock trial” experience.  The students loved it, and learned so much!  Ms. O’Renick indicated due to the success of the experience, that this likely will become an annual event in the future. 
 
OMS volunteer football coaches extraordinaire, Darrin and Justin Moore, were honored by Principal Justin Corey as the District’s “Volunteers of the Month”.  These gentlemen revived the middle school football program a few years back, devoting countless hours and positively impacting the lives of many, many middle school students in the process. We appreciate them!
 
In other special recognition, the Board acknowledged National School Counseling Week, which occurred earlier this month (February 4-8).  We (the board, our administrative team and entire district staff) commended Junction City School District’s counselors who 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’s & 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.
 
January also was School Board Appreciation Month and we have the best school board in the State of Oregon!  I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity work for- and alongside- our board as we serve our students, support our staff, and engage our community. The board’s vision, stewardship, and commitment to each and every child is a huge part of every success our district has achieved.  We will continue to do great things together in the years to come.
 
Representatives from our auditing firm, Paully Rogers, were at the meeting to present the board with the results of the 2017-18 program audit and to answer questions; hard copies of the audit were available at the board meeting and also at the District Office.  Once again, the District achieved a completely “clean” audit with no findings or corrective actions required; the board acknowledged that this great achievement was again due to the efforts of our business manager Alison Covey and her team.
 
Tony Scurto, Superintendent of Lane ESD, visited the board to present the LESD Local Service Plan to give the board members an opportunity to ask any questions they might have and to highlight a few of the new and exciting initiatives we partner on, including a program to support students who have chronic absenteeism.  We greatly value and appreciate our partnership with Lane ESD. We rely on them for a vast array of services, particularly in the areas of technology and special education, and reply on their support for curriculum, instruction and staff development.
 
Next, the board heard a “Bond Work Update” from Jordan Phiefer, from our project management team, DeChase Miksis.  Jordan reported to the board about the facilities improvements budget, remaining projects at the high school and throughout the district and also provided a report out from the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) that he chairs. At their last meeting, the CAC planning the logistics of the Open House and tour of the new addition to the high school- as well as the remodeled areas in the high school.  That event is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 26th from 4:30 to 6:30.  We just can’t wait to share our excitement and appreciation for the Community’s support of our May 2016 bond measure! I hope you can join us!
 
Following the bond update, the board moved to consider action items, the first of which was the  approval of the minutes from the November 26th board meeting.
 
Next, the board approved the District’s Division 22 Assurances submission to ODE.   Each year, we are asked to review the Oregon Department of Education’s “Division 22” Standards for public school districts. The process is sometimes laborious, but is almost always worthwhile as it yields important information that guides our goal-setting, budgeting, and staffing plans. This year, each member of the District’s Administrative Team dug deeper into specific standards and shared their assessment, questions, and recommendations with the rest of the Team via a google doc.  While we continue to meet standards in all areas, there are two specific areas we will want to attend to in the coming years- the first is with respect to health instruction, especially at the middle school.  The second is in terms of the requirements for increasing the number of minutes of PE instruction at each grade level; while we are meeting those PE requirements now, severe facilities limitations at Laurel and less-than-optimal PE specialist staffing levels at Oaklea are going to make it more difficult to meet this standard in the coming years. 
 
The board then approved the “Restated Joinder of Trust” Agreement with PACE our liability carrier, and then approved Resolution 2018-19 #16, which adjusted appropriations in our General Fund and added a PERS Debt Service Fund to cover payments for our recent bonding of more than half of our District’s UAL (unfunded actuarial liability) for PERS, which will result in lower PERS rates for our District in the future, which will allow more of our general fund dollars to go to our instructional, co-curricular and support programs.   Fifty-eight new or revised board policies then had a Second Reading and all were approved without revision.  Please note that all of our board policies can be found on the district website.
 
In the saddest action taken by the board in years, the Board accepted the retirement of long-time board member Denise Pratt and declared vacant Board Position #3.  For the past 20 years, Denise Pratt has been devoted to seeing that Junction City schools are the very best they can be and that we meet the needs- and spark the interest of- every single student who walks through our doors. She has been a champion for all JC students- but especially for those most in need of a champion; she has been a warrior and an advocate for public school funding, and a passionate supporter of our entire staff and our many improvement efforts. 
 
For most of those past 20 years, Denise served as Chair of our school board. She set the vision for so many of the policies that have positively impacted our students and raised our district’s profile in the community and the state.  She helped us navigate the National media frenzy we found ourselves in when the Men of the Long Tom Grange donated more than a quarter-million dollars to our district from the proceeds of their semi-nude- but tasteful- calendars.  She led us through the fire when we had to make drastic budget cuts and staffing reductions in the early 2000s; she helped shape and inspire new programs to reach all students, and she sat at the bargaining table to see that we reached collaborative resolutions with our professional associations that recognized the value of our employees and also stayed within our community’s means.  She did much of the heavy-lifting when it came to passing our facilities bond in May of 2016, and she shares much of the credit for the beautiful new addition to JCHS and the myriad of other facilities improvements that have been made throughout the district the past several years.
 
On a personal note, I feel like Denise helped raise me.  I met her more than 20 years ago when I was principal at Laurel Elementary and she was a Soroptimist Breakfast buddy; she stood by my side while we dealt with the tragic loss of several of our precious students and she was always there for me as a cheerleader, a sounding board, and a generous supporter of my students in need.  While there have been a few days that I wondered why I let her talk me into applying to become Superintendent of JCSD in 2003, there has not been a single day when I didn’t appreciate having her by my side, every step of the way.  Denise leaves such a legacy of leadership and service.  She will be missed more than you can possibly imagine, but we hope that she will rest easy knowing that she has positively influenced the lives of literally tens of thousands of Junction City students, past, present and future. 
 
Before adjourning for the evening, the board engaged in discussions regarding the dangerous trend vaping and considered (and ultimately supported) the proposal to conduct nicotine testing of student athletes at JCHS.  They also approved the parameters that will be given to our Calendar Committee as they develop options for the 2019-20 school calendar.  Business Manager Alison Covey offered the board the monthly Financial Update, and the board received the monthly Student Enrollment Update. 
 
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 25th at 6 PM.    Until then, GO TIGERS!