News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters School District at a glance

• Sisters Education Association (union) President Michele Hammer thanked the school board and Superintendent Curt Scholl for working cooperatively with the teaching staff on solving issues related to working conditions during COVID-19. Hammer also expressed how much the teaching staff looks forward to being back, doing in-person instruction.

• Teachers are largely working from the school buildings this year during the distance-learning phase as opposed to from home as they did last spring.

• Beginning fund balance of the budget for the 2020-21 school year came in higher than expected according to Finance Director Sherry Joseph. The extra money resulted from greater returns from the local option tax ($300,000) and from less spending last spring on items such as transportation, new hires, substitutes and athletics, as the district operated under distance learning.

• Building principals reported a good start to the first week following a lot of outreach to students and families, including socially distanced meet-and-greets, school tours, and home visits to help welcome new and transitioning families.

• All three principals conveyed a hopefulness that the health metrics related to COVID-19 infection rates will continue to drop so that students can return to in-person learning. If low rates in Deschutes County hold, K-4 students will return to class on September 28 and Sisters Middle School and Sisters High School students will return October 19.

• The school board passed a proclamation emphasizing commitment to equity and anti-racism and resolving to establish specific goals and policies to support equity and anti-racism.

• Enrollment numbers are not final yet, but the middle school reported 50 new students resulting in a net gain over last year of 30. The elementary school has had a continuous flow of kindergarten enrollments, along with other grades, and stood at a total of 322, which includes some families who have opted for the district’s full-time online option and full-time distance learning. The high school reported a total of 25 new students to the district. More accurate enrollment numbers will be available soon.

• The preschool has not yet begun operations as the district awaits the signing of a contract from the Oregon Early Learning Division which oversees public preschools in Oregon. Principal Joan Warburg said, “We have staff hired and are ready to rock and roll, but have to wait for the state to finish the contract.”

• Special education director Martha Hindman reported on summer activities, including the Youth Transition Program and the extended school year academic skills class. Teaching and paraprofessionals took part in a “Special Education 101” course in August to enhance understanding of special education law and best practices.

• The board approved a minor adjustment to the school calendar, necessitated in part due to the high school and middle school operating on six-week segments rather than traditional terms. The updated calendar will be available on the school district website soon.

• The new transportation facility west of SPRD is completed.

• Curt Scholl expressed the district’s commitment to supporting the social/emotional needs of students during the challenges of the pandemic and distance learning.

• The next school board meeting is set for Wednesday, October 7 at 6 p.m.


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