“This week in the Fern Ridge School District we celebrate Classified Employee Appreciation Week. The Classified Employees in our District are critical to our mission and an invaluable resource to our community. They are the Secretaries, Instructional Assistants, Custodians, and Bookkeepers just to name a few. They work directly with students, educators, parents and volunteers. They support the smooth operation of our offices, the safety and maintenance of our buildings and property, and the instruction of our students. The Fern Ridge Community depends on our Classified Employees to serve our students in a wide variety of ways. The diverse talents and true dedication of these employees is greatly appreciated. Thank you to all the Classified Employees that work throughout the Fern Ridge School District.” Gary Carpenter, Superintendent, FRSD
At the school board meeting last evening, Craig Soderberg resigned his school board position after serving 10 years on the Fern Ridge School District School Board. Thank you Craig for your years of dedication, commitment, kindness, knowledge, and work in helping make the Fern Ridge School District a great place for students to learn. Craig will be greatly missed!
The District is looking for parent/community feedback regarding a problem that needs to be addressed. The problem is that out of our approximately 600 Elementary students in the District K-5, approximately 380 live within the current VES designated boundary, and 220 live within the current EES designated boundary. The problem will continue to grow in the coming years, due to the vast majority of expected housing growth taking place within the VES boundary, as well as the fact that of our current 148 enrolled Kinders and 1st graders, only 46 live within the EES boundary. This problem manifests itself in different ways: transportation issues, unbalanced class sizes, loss of significant class time for students being bused and arriving too late to eat breakfast or are being pulled out of school early, additional costs and much more. To not address the problem would not be in the best interest of our students. For the past year, a District committee has met to discuss possible solutions. They are:
- Go to a K-2/3-5 model. Meaning one school would house all of the District’s K-2nd grade students, and one would serve the District’s 3rd -5th grade students. There are significant “pros” and “cons” to this model. A significant “pro” is that it would allow the District to have balanced class loads across a grade level. A significant “con” would be the difficulties and disruptions created for families with multiple elementary age students in different buildings.
- Re-drawing the District boundaries. This means taking the area that is currently identified as the VES attendance area and making it smaller. A significant “pro” of this model is that it would be much easier to accomplish this (vs. going to a K-2/3-5 model), and many people would not be effected at all. A significant “con” of this model is the tremendous disruption to families that would no longer be bused to their non-resident school, and that some families/areas that have always been “VES families” would now be “EES families.”
There are no easy solutions, but it is a problem that can be solved. And hopefully, once solved, will result in better services and educational experiences for our students. In the coming months the district will be communicating this problem in different ways, ending with a parent/community informational night, and survey to take place in late January or early February. Please share this information with your friends and family, and join the District in addressing this issue for the betterment of our students in the years to come.
Gary Carpenter-Supt., FRSD
Throughout the school year, State Testing information will be posted under the “Resources” category on the left hand side of the main page. Please visit this location for general information. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact the respective school directly.
With the 2016-17 school year well under way, I wanted to take a moment to provide some important information about this year’s state tests.
Last spring, students in Fern Ridge School District and around Oregon took state tests in English Language Arts and Math, called Smarter Balanced. The tests move away from previous fill-in-the bubble exams that focused on rote memorization, to a format which asks students to explain their reasoning and write out their answers. These new tests measure more complex, real-world skills such as critical-thinking, writing, and problem solving so that your child can successfully transition from grade to grade and be prepared for his or her next steps after high school.
Fern Ridge School District will give Smarter Balanced tests this spring. The tests are not timed so your child can take as long as he or she needs to fully demonstrate what he or she knows and can do. At the High School level, successfully passing these tests is a requirement for an Oregon diploma. The practice our students get in grades 3-8 by taking these exams, helps prepare them for the H.S. exam they will take in the Spring of their 11th grade year.
We know that an end-of-the-year test cannot possibly tell us everything about your child’s academic progress. However, the results do act as a snapshot of your child’s strengths and areas for improvement and can be used as a way to ensure he or she is getting the supports he or she needs. Additionally, the tests help Fern Ridge School District’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning. When fewer students take the test, we are left with an incomplete and inaccurate picture of how our students are performing, and this limits our ability to address issues, better serve students, and continue to improve our educational system. The participation of your student is greatly appreciated.
While we discourage opting-out of the exams for several reasons (a few of them mentioned above), included with this letter is a form that allows you to opt your child out of testing for the 2016-17 school year. The form is also posted online on our district website. Should you wish to opt your child out, please submit the form to your child’s school’s main office. You can read more about your rights to opt-out here: http://tinyurl.com/OR-HB2655.
In Fern Ridge School District, we are deeply committed to ensuring each and every student in our schools has the supports he or she needs to achieve at high levels and graduate prepared for his or her next steps. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that all students are set up to be successful from grade to grade and that will remain the focus of our district throughout the rest of the school year.
If you have general questions or want more information about the end-of-year tests, please see the attached factsheet. I encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) with any questions you may have about your student’s progress.
Gary Carpenter, Superintendent
Elmira Elementary School and Veneta Elementary School will hold their Parent/Teacher Conferences on Monday, November 21st from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and Tuesday, November 22nd from 8:00 am to noon. More information will be sent home with students. This is a great opportunity for parents to learn about the progress their child has made. The Scholastic Book Fair will also be taking place in each of the schools libraries. Families are encouraged to stop by and check it out. Thank you to all of the volunteers helping with the Book Fairs.
Parking lots and bus loops at Elmira Elementary (EES), Veneta Elementary (VES) and Elmira High School (EHS) posed challenges the first few days of the school year. However, due to planning, coordination and the patience of our parents and students, I am confident the worst of the congestion is over. The schools all appreciate the patience of our parents when visiting one of the sites under construction (especially at EES and EHS), where a simple trip to the office can be somewhat of an adventure. The next challenge in regards to parking lots will be at Elmira Elementary School when demolition of the current school begins. The families of EES should stay tuned for what that plan will look like as we will begin communicating it prior to the holiday break in December.
All of the projects continue to be progressing nicely, and are on schedule for completion. One project that has begun since the last update in August is the project at the District office. This building is getting much needed repairs that will extend its life with new siding and roofing. In addition, there will be new ADA access ramps as well as a new septic drain field.
The two sites that remain under heavy construction are EHS and EES. At EHS, the gym construction remains on track to be finished prior to the holiday break. The girl’s locker room is completed with only some final cosmetic work remaining. The fire suppression systems throughout the remodel area are done and provide additional student and public safety. The new lobby recently had its concrete slab poured and framing is now beginning in that area.
At EES we remain on track to move into the building over the holiday break. The District is currently working on a plan that will allow that to occur in a way that makes the transition smooth for students, and as simple for staff as we can possibly make it. While there is no easy way to make a move like this in such a short timeframe, we are confident we can minimize the stress on staff and students by beginning to plan early during this challenge. Within the building, the contractors are currently in the interior finish phase of the project with cabinets and flooring being installed and painting being completed. On the exterior, siding and hardscape around the building are in the final stages of completion.
The Fern Ridge School District provides a monthly update on the progress of the work funded by the $26.7 million bond approved by voters in May 2014, published on the fourth Wednesday of each month. For more information about bond activities, visit the District’s website at www.fernridge.k12.or.us/bond, or call the District Office at 541-935-2253.
In today’s Oregonian…. Way to go EHS Staff, students and parents! In addition, a big congrats to this years seniors whose scores showed the rest of the state that Elmira rocks!
One of the first things tasks I wanted to complete in my new position as FRSD Superintendent was to assess the bond promises made to the voters of the District, and ensure our progress was in line with meeting those commitments. I am happy to say I am confident that all bond promises at all buildings will be met. In addition, while we are unsure of the exact amount, there will be at least some additional monies left unencumbered. The School Board will have future discussions in regards to its best use. The sole use of any remaining dollars will be for capital improvement projects only. Those that fit with the criteria of the bond, taking highest priority: Safety, Technology, Critical Capital repairs, and maintaining a sound educational environment.
Before I give a brief update on each site, I wanted to take a minute to thank the Fern Ridge School District Maintenance and Facilities staff. Michael Bateman and Michael Biehler (Technology), Greg Baker (Facilities), Jeff Thiessen and David Johnson (Grounds and Maintenance) as well as many others, have been in countless long days this summer to ensure the complications and challenges that arise with projects such as this are met and overcome. They have done a fantastic job! In addition, the District has worked with three different General Contractors so far: Hyland Construction, GBC Construction and LCG Pence. All three have performed admirably, worked with the District well, and have been good partners in the stewardship of our tax dollars.
Veneta Elementary School – Except for some warranty and product issues that are being solved, the building work at Veneta is complete. Just this last week the second phase of the project (the parking lot loop) was completed, as well as a Holiday Tree Lighting Plaza and performance area. This area was partially funded by the City of Veneta through a partnership and should be a great community resource in the years to come. The building has new key-card access as well as security cameras. New Audio/Visual equipment is located throughout the building and will be coming on-line the first few weeks of school. Sometime in the next 4-6 weeks I will be coordinating an evening community tour of both VES and FRMS for any community member. This will be a great opportunity for those that haven’t yet had a chance to see the changes, to get a first-hand look at these fantastic new community resources.
Fern Ridge Middle School –The Fern Ridge Middle School project is also complete. There are some minor fixes and corrections being made, but for the most part, the project is finished. Key Card access, security cameras and Audio/Visual throughout will be coming on-line at FRMS in the first weeks of school. At both FRMS and VES we are currently in the process of gathering quotes for a “blending” of the exteriors of those buildings with the end result being a more seamless appearance and transition between the new sections of the building and the older. Once this is complete it should really create a “completed” look in the front of these two facilities.
Elmira Elementary –The EES project, the largest one in the District, has hit all of its target dates and is currently on track to have staff and students move in over the December Holiday break. As soon as the move into the new building is completed, the old school will be demolished and construction of the parent parking area and a new “play field” will begin.
Elmira High School – Some projects at the high school such as replacing the siding on the old gym complex, and the re-roofing of two areas that were in need of repair have been completed. The girl’s locker room renovation is nearly complete and the District is expected to take occupancy of that space before school starts. The main project of a new gym, lobby/entrance to the school is scheduled to be complete prior to Winter Break. We are excited about the improvements this project will bring to our students and the community.
As school starts, please be aware of the changes and construction activity the school sites. Your patience is appreciated as we continue to problem solve what will work best. This is especially true at EES and EHS where major construction is still occurring and alternate plans have had to be made in regards to office access, parking, bus drop-off/pick-up and parent drop/off pick-up.
Last night, August 15, 2016, the school board accepted the resignation of Dr. Sally Storm for health-related reasons. We wish to convey to her our appreciation for her work with the District these past two years.
In order to move forward with the school year, Mr. Gary Carpenter was designated our Interim Superintendent to carry out the responsibilities of the position through June 30, 2017. He will remain the High School Principal as well.
Elevated levels of lead in school drinking water is making headlines in both local and national news. Effected school districts are frantically working to test their facilities and make corrections in response to the public’s outcry. But not here at Fern Ridge! For more than a decade the District has operated our water systems under the watchful eye of the Department of Human Services in their Drinking Water Program. All facilities whose water comes from District owned water sources, are on a set schedule for lead testing. A certified testing lab is provided samples from sinks and drinking fountains accessible to students and staff. Those results are sent to both the District and responsible State agency for verification of compliance. No elevated levels of lead are present in our systems.
To assure this trend continues, daily pH levels are monitored so heavy metals do not have a chance to leach into our systems. The only exception to this is Veneta Elementary School, whose water is provided by the city-wide system. Lead testing in that system is performed by the City of Veneta itself and reported to their governing agency. Recently, the Superintendent directed the maintenance staff to conduct independent testing of Veneta Elementary School’s drinking water. No elevated lead levels were found. All test results are public record and are available by contacting the District.