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home : letters : letters April 28, 2016


2/26/2013 12:17:00 PM
Letters to the Editor 02/27/2013

To the Editor:

The accomplishments of the Sisters School District have been well documented: 2012 Oregonian Cup, given to the top high school in the state for academics, sportsmanship and athletic success; 2012 Model School Designation, given to the Elementary School for being in the top five percent in the state for student achievement; 2012 designation of "Outstanding" for all three schools by the Oregon Department of Education, one of the highest graduation rates in the state, and the highest state testing scores regionally.

Is this success accomplished in a fiscally responsible manner? Consider this:

• Sisters School District administrative costs are only 2 percent of total budget compared to the statewide average for similar sized schools of 4 percent.

• The state has cut school funding by 30 percent over the past three years.

• Teachers have accepted pay freezes over the last three years, demonstrating their commitment to small class sizes and academic success.

• Even with the levy, Sisters school tax rates are the lowest in Central Oregon.

On February 22, ballots were mailed to all residents in the Sisters School District asking voters to approve the renewal of the Sisters local option levy that has been in place since 2000.

It is Oregon statute that no levy can be continued longer then a five-year term without voter approval. This is a healthy system of checks and balances. Voters of the Sisters School District decided in 2000, 2004 and 2009 that the levy was a good investment in our community. Now we are being asked to consider renewal again.

As we consider the renewal of the Sisters Schools Local Option Levy, it is clear that the district has held up their end of the bargain: Providing high academic success in a fiscally responsible manner. Doing more for less, it is what we should all strive for. Let's keep our end of the bargain, vote "yes" to renew the Sisters Local Option Levy.

Winter Lewis

•••

To the Editor:

When I rolled into Central Oregon in 1952 on a Harley, Sisters teacher William Edwards was one of the first high school teachers in the area teaching conservation. Part of these classes were conducted in the forest. You know what? Thanks to the Sisters local option, it's still going on.

High school teachers today are doing it through the IEE (Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition). Teachers Rima Givot, Rand Runco, Samra Spear and Glen Herron team up to provide the best conservation education classes you could hope to find. They do everything from plant fish in the Wolftree area of Whychus Creek, to conducting outdoor studies in the Trout Creek Conservation Area - a 160-acre restoration project located behind the high school, owned by the Sisters School District and protected in perpetuity by the Deschutes Land Trust - to bicycling and doing outdoor studies in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

A "yes" vote on the Sisters local option will help keep the quality educational programs going in our schools and give your kids and grandkids that top-notch education my kids got years ago.

Jim Anderson, Naturalist

•••

To the Editor:

Marlene and I came to Sisters after traveling the Southwest for six weeks looking for a change after living in Coos Bay for 40 years.

It was early August in the late afternoon and Sisters was buzzing. We found a room at Sisters Motor Lodge. The room had an outside upper-level deck looking out with an unobstructed view of The Sisters and Broken Top. Sharing a bottle of wine we looked at each other and realized, it doesn't get better than this. The next day, we contacted a real estate agent and began our new adventure.

A year prior I had met Zander Albertson at the state track meet at Hayward Field. Zander was a freshman at Sisters High School and was photographing athletes from Sisters High School. I was in my third year photographing student athletes from Marshfield High. Zander had filled his memory cards and I offered him several of mine and in the next two days we became friends.

Several months later we had found our new home and we stopped at Sisters Coffee, and out front there was a gentlemen standing next to a table. Gary Bowne asked us where we from and after hearing that we were excited about purchasing a home here in Sisters, he explained that he was promoting local option. He believed local option provided unique opportunities: IEE, exemplary art classes, woodworking, culinary instruction and academic studies including honors classes. He stated that the student-to-teacher ratio was one of the lowest in the state.

Gary asked if I had some time to visit Sisters High School as his guest to experience some of the activities students are offered.

During the past four years I have learned first-hand that we offer very special opportunities for our children to grow and establish themselves as creative and productive members of our society. I know that as goes the education of our young people so goes the future of the United States.

Look deep into yourselves and know that you did the very best for our children; vote yes on the Sisters Schools Local Option.

Jerry and Marlene Baldock

•••

To the Editor:

We are honored to be seniors at Sisters High School this year, and we are sincerely asking you to vote "yes" to renew the local option!

We both entered the Sisters educational system after a number of years outside, and are grateful that we did. Though we will be graduating in June this year, we have come to understand that, in our years of outstanding schooling, we have benefitted greatly from local option. We have small class sizes, amazing teachers whose lessons will be with us for the rest of our lives, and a staff that holds us accountable.

We have both had many opportunities and challenges. We have discovered how to learn from our failures and move humbly forward from success. In all honesty, we have barely touched on what local option means to a student. To Outlaw students it means ceramics, band, mock trial, woods, yearbook, choir, IEE and leadership; essentially all the things that make Sisters High School so unique and exceptional.

As we move into the next chapters of our lives and head off to college, we know that renewing the local option this time will not directly affect us. However, we are aware of how important passing the local option is to the community of Sisters. We want the future generations to have the same opportunities we have had-as Outlaws.

Please, let's keep a good thing going. Our education has given us knowledge, life skills, humility, confidence and ambition. We know that it is only right that we do our part as responsible citizens, and vote yes. If we are lucky enough to be able to come back to Sisters as residents, we will gladly pay our share of local option.

Thank you for voting, and thank you for voting "yes" for local option.

Katie Stewart and Nicky Blumm

•••

To the Editor:

The greatest asset we have as a community, and as a country, is the next generation. The strength of our next generation is reliant on the quality of education it receives. With that said, we are extremely fortunate to live in a community with a school district that provides opportunities for excellent education - the best in Central Oregon and one of the best in the state.

By renewing the Sisters local option, we have the opportunity to ensure that our school district has the funding to maintain its excellence. A "yes" vote does NOT increase taxes for anyone, it merely allows for the continuation of the local option levy that was first approved in 2000, and has been renewed twice since. Renewing the local option will allow Sisters to maintain a full school year, keep class sizes down, and retain courses in shop, technology, foreign language, P.E., art, music and outdoor education, just to name a few. If it's not renewed, budget cuts of over $1.2 million per year will be necessary, starting this fall, resulting in drastic reductions in school days, staff, and programs.

We moved to the Sisters area in 2004, after 25 years in the Willamette Valley. Our younger daughter was going into her junior year of high school, and we questioned moving her with only two years left. However, after visiting Sisters High School, and with all we'd heard over the years about the excellence of Sisters School District, she had no second thoughts and was excited to move here. She graduated in 2006 and is currently attending USF school of law.

We have no children or grandchildren attending school in Sisters, but we feel it is vitally important to maintain Sisters' high educational standards. If you have any questions, or need more clarification, the local option website is an excellent resource:

www.sisterslocaloption.com. Important to note is that this levy requires a super-majority vote, which means that more than 50% of registered voters have to vote "yes", which requires large voter turnout. There is absolutely no reason to vote "no" on the local option and every reason to vote "yes."

Please join us in supporting our next generation with a "yes" vote on Measure 9-88.

Lynne and Sage Dorsey

•••

To the Editor:

We hope you will join us in voting "yes" for the Sisters local option.

It's good for our kids, it's good for the vitality and economic vibrancy of our town and it's good for our community.

In short, it's very good for Sisters Country.

Please don't forget to vote.

Wendy and Alan Holzman

•••

To the Editor:

By 410 AD everything was changing for the small town of Corbridge in Northern Britannia. As harsh and humiliating as the Roman occupation had been, strict standards and skilled oversight in the areas of agriculture, urbanization, industry and architecture - as well as ongoing financial support - made it possible for the people of the land to develop far more rapidly than they would have otherwise.

William was one beneficiary of the Roman presence. As a smith, trained by the Romans in the fine art of sword-making, he was paid well enough to provide for his family. But William knew that was changing.

The troops were leaving, families with young people were finding work elsewhere, and threats from the North were strengthening. He would no longer have access to materials necessary to build the same quality weapons and tools, and without the right materials, there would be no new victories, no adequate defenses, no viable futures. Without the Romans, without their "free" education and without their support to secure development and protection - the small border town of Corbridge was destined for collapse from within and invasion from without.

Back to the future: Oddly enough the exact same dynamics are at play for us here in our little town of Sisters. As national and state education budgets contract we are left with a very difficult decision. Do we step into the gap to support quality local public education or abandon our progeny and reputation simply because it is easier to fold up shop and say "no" when times get tough? Remember, pulling away guarantees a negative outcome for our children and our own futures - no matter our age.

Instead, say "no" to the Saxons, say "no" to the Dark Ages, and "YES" to the local option.

Tom Showalter





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