SLSD holds meeting, talks Bohemia, resignations

After the South Lane School District Board recovered from the announcement of Cottage Grove High School Principal Iton Udosenata's resignation, the remainder of the meeting adhered to the agenda and covered a wide variety of issues.

Cottage Grove High School student Savannah Palis updated the board about what was going on at the school focusing on AP tests and a variety of club activities.

The attention of the board then shifted to a presentation from Bohemia Elementary School staff members. Principal Heather Bridgens, alongside fifth grade teacher Ashley Olsen and first grade teacher Katherine Hawks, gave a presentation on Performance Assessment Demonstration Sites (PADS), a program that through the Oregon Department of Education is working to, according to the ODE website, “provide performance assessment professional learning and implementation support.” For this program, the school received a $43,000 grant.

“The purpose of a performance assessment is three things,” said Bridgens. “One to tell the story student learning, to gather information to inform about the best next step will be for the student, and to decide if the student has learned enough. Our current state assessment system looks at number three, has a student learned enough by the end of the year.”

As the group made clear, the goal of this is to assess students in a way that also aids the learning process. Additionally, they identified that assessments should not be the most difficult part of the learning processes but should be integrated into the learning.

“The student should learn while being assessed and a great is example is learning to tie your shoe,” said Olsen. “When you learn to tie your shoe there is tons of practice and skill building involved with the end result being that you can tie your shoe. So the assessment of tying your shoe is what the student will practice the entire time.”

The presenters gave examples of different topics that classrooms were focused on and how they were assessed in a new way with this program. One example showed how first graders looked at opinions and opinion writing while talking about artists.

The meeting then moved along to public comments where an impassioned community parent urged the board to make the purchasing of whip-its go from the age of 18 to 21 in congruence with the new tobacco ordinance. She told the story of her son who used this drug and was in a dangerous place. She noted that the current system is a “legal loophole” and she has been working with stores in the area to make sure that they are not available to minors.

After a brief break, the meeting resumed and a bond update was issued from Superintendent Parent. “We applied for some seismic grants, actually five of them,” she said. “They told us absolutely no way that they would only fund one and once in a great while they might pick two and we got all five.”

The five grants will be going towards five different buildings to add posts and beams so that they are prepared for seismic damage. The total of the grants was just over 2 million dollars and the work at these buildings will be taking place over the course of the next two years.

The board then discussed new business including the adoption of a new math curriculum and a ten-cent price increase in student lunches.