As of Jan. 26, roughly 60 inches of snow had dropped on Central Oregon this winter. That's far from the most the area has seen since records have been kept, but it's still prompting City of Bend officials to consider some changes.
The City's Streets Department is proposing an increase of $270,000 more in the City's winter operations budget as a result, said City of Bend Communications Director Anne Aurand. Part of that proposal would include funds for hiring seasonal workers and tools to help citizens who request help removing snow.
"What that would mean is a couple of staff people would be able to jump in a pickup and go help shovel (or use a small plow) to assist vulnerable populations when there are access issues," Aurand said, "and we'd have staff to better care for sidewalks that are our responsibility, such as around roundabouts or at underpasses."
Should the proposal move forward, citizens would have a chance to give their input during budget committee meetings in the spring. As the Source reported Jan. 26, December's snowplowing efforts cost more than $328,000, according to Streets Director David Abbas. The City's plowing budget for the entire season is $1.2 million.
Bend, Redmond Graduation Rates Increase
According to data from the Oregon Department of Education released Jan. 26, graduation rates in both Bend and Redmond increased in 2016. Redmond School District's on-time graduation rate went up 8.6 percent for the class of 2016, to 79.1 percent. In Bend-La Pine, the on-time graduation rate was 77.52 percent, up from 77.21 percent the previous year. Oregon's average for 2016 was 74.83 percent, up from 73.82 the previous year.
"We are pleased with the recent jump in graduation rates," said RSD Superintendent Mike McIntosh, "and at the same time acknowledge there is much work to be done in order to reach our goal of ensuring each student completes high school prepared for a successful future."
Schools Get Option for Reprieve on Making Up Snow Days
On Jan. 26, the Oregon State Board of Education unanimously approved a temporary rule allowing school districts the option to apply for state permission to count up to 14 hours of emergency school closures as "missed instructional time." Prior to a rule change in 2015, schools had long had that option.
"As a Board, we know that one of the keys to increasing our graduation rate is making sure students are in class as much as possible, which is why we have focused on strengthening instructional time expectations in recent years," State Board Chair Charles R. Martinez, Jr. said in a Jan. 26 release. "But we also know some districts are running out of options to respond to the unprecedented weather events so far this year. With this one-time, temporary action we have ensured that there is accountability by requiring a public hearing and written justification at the district level, coupled with approval at the state level on a case-by-case basis." Bend-La Pine officials had previously indicated they would apply for an exception to instructional time rules.
Deadline Approaching for Open Bend-La Pine School Board Spot
The Bend-La Pine Schools Board of Directors is calling for applicants for its open Zone 7 board position, held by Nori Juba since 2005. The current term—as yet unexpired—expires in June, so the new board member would serve until June 30. The appointee can choose to file for election for the next four years during the spring election cycle. The deadline for the current open spot is Feb. 9 by 4pm. Contact the Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent's Office for details.
Meanwhile, the Oregon School Boards Association is urging candidates to run for school, Education Service District and community college boards across the state. According to the Association, during the May 2015 election, the lowest number of candidates ran for Oregon school board seats in a decade, with nearly three-quarters of candidates running unopposed. OSBA launched its "Get on Board" campaign Jan. 26 in an effort to combat that trend. Visit getonboardoregon.org for more information.