Thursday, June 14, 2012

Voice concerns/priorities for Sisters School District

A group of Sisters Country citizens has requested a forum for soliciting community opinion on priorities for the Sisters School District as the district wrestles with cuts and approaches a critical vote on local option.
The Nugget made this space available for this dialogue. The citizens’ request is as follows:
If you have a child in the school district, you may have an idea of the issues that are facing current students.  If you don’t have a child in the district but have had or have an opinion on what are the pressing needs facing the local schools, YOUR INPUT IS VITAL as we will all be faced with voting on a local option for schools.
Please consider making suggestions in a sentence or two format.  By summarizing top 3-10 concerns as you see it, the information will be presented to the school board as soon as it can be organized …  as there are many pressing issues in a short time frame that may or may not be possible to address before school starts in the fall.
 Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. We need to find ways to get people who have been through the system with their own kids to share their thoughts as well as trying to develop a consensus of what peoples concerns are to have some numbers to present to the school board

  2. My top concerns of SSD are:
    1)Decisions being made without the community knowing what their (admin & board) thinking is - (ie ending the business program and shutting down a radio station that the community fought hard to create)without any community input. When I questioned that I was told I should have attended Board meetings - if I had known that was on chopping block - I am sure a lot of parents would have attended!
    2)Moving teachers or not rehiring teachers who are engaging and think out of the box to educate our children in ways beyond books and busy work. I do understand that unions play a part in it but start being tougher with unions - our kids education depends on it!!
    3)Disregard for for coaches and volunteers that dedicate their time way beyond their compensation - it is important for athletes to have teacher/coaches to keep them accountable during the school day instead they are just tossed aside in the best interest of what - still trying to figure that out!

  3. The "teachers/union first" mentality is harming the kids education in Sisters.

    Why do they RIF based on seniority? Keeping the Tier 1 most senior teachers does NOT always equate to the best teachers. Yes, many excellent teachers have been in the SHS since it reopened. But there is deadwood that could have been RIFed, but wasn't.

    The way the Board and the administration have acted recently, will lead many people to not support the next Local Option vote. We need new leadership at the Board and Admin level. To just say "give us more money" will not cut it anymore.

  4. to Anonymous 8.34

    Just to be clear, the request is not "give us more money", it is "please maintain funding from the local community at current levels". Since the other major source of funding (the State) is being drastically cut, this doesn't seem like an outrageous request.

    So just for clarity, your suggestion is to cut funding even further because the board didn't fire the teachers you consider "deadwood".

    My suggestion is that we try not cut the budget locally, and that we prioritize the hiring and retention of teaching staff as budget priorities, especially in grades k-8, because many studies have shown that those are the years where you can have the greatest impact on the outcomes for children in the long run, and that having having qualified teaching staff is the best way to have an impact.

  5. When you fire coaches that have had the most success in the whole schools history something is going on. It's time to get Andrew Gorayeb off the board, and get people who have agendas out. This guy single-handedly destroyed the foundation of the best baseball program in the state, so his lacrosse program could be in front. The firing of Steve Hodges wasn't based on anything else besides this guy trying to run him out of town. It's a shame to lose such a great man, coach, teacher, and mentor. Sisters School District has done it again, firing another top-tier human being. Get Gorayeb out and get rid of Golden and this district could be alright. Something about losing a business program just doesn't add up...Sisters is now Business vs. Americana/Art, and let's take a step back and see which of the two actually impacts the real world.

  6. This is really very sad. This community is burdened by people that neither want to understand the issues nor care enough to put what's best for all the kids ahead of their own agenda.

    They only want what they want and "...screw everyone else..." The school district is working in an environment where funding has been cut by over $4 million dollars in the last 3 years. What do people expect? Hold a community vote on every single firing? These decisions are hard to make. They fall on the shoulders of the best damned Superintendent that we have ever had and people whining about it isn't going to make his job any easier.

    Do you want him to take a position in another district where he can make much more money? Well, do you? Keep it up, I'm sure that after enough people finish breaking his chops, he'll leave.

    That's great, lose the best thing Sisters School District has because some one person had to be fired? Nice going. "But my kid plays sport X, forget about the fact that there are 1,100 other kids that need to learn math, reading and science, all I care about is my kid..."

    Keep telling yourselves that you're upset for THE kids. You aren't, you're upset for YOUR KID.

    People that only show up and express their opinions when it's Their Problem are not people that are invested in the success of this school district or it's children.

    This is very symptomatic of problems in this country. People are too focused on themselves to get involved and do the right things. Instead, they just whine about it and accuse everyone else of being responsible. No wonder we have a political system that is basically shut down... what the heck is wrong with people?

    Funding is shrinking. How do you expect to run the district? Who gets fired? WHO? No one? Well, that can't happen. This is a bad environment. Stop telling yourselves it's better in Portland or Hawaii or California or Texas, it's bad all over.

    How about you try this instead, get behind Jim Golden, stop whining and realize that he is very good at his job and knows much more than you do, back him up and tell him how sad and upset you are about the challenges that we all face. Then perhaps you could yell at the Governor for under-funding education in Oregon or the PERS burden or contracts, rules and regulations that cost this school district a fortune? Or you could get upset about the money that gets thrown away at the State level on waste (like energy audits that don't save any money) or things that could be done with community support at minimal cost? Maybe you could get behind athletics fundraising programs that could have prevented some of this? Are these details and facts too much to consider? It's easy to sling mud, it's hard to roll up your sleeves and get involved in the solution. This is a call to arms, get involved.

    Nope, you didn't get involved and now you're upset about the results. What did you expect? Check the scripture, "you reap what you sow"

  7. To Anonymous 7.19 AM


  8. Dear Anonymous,

    I love baseball (I've been a Yankees fan since I was an infant), lacrosse has enough participants for the next 10 years we don't need more kids, we're doing just fine. If you had a spine you wouldn't be such a chicken-sh-t and hide behind anonymity. You want me off the Board, fine, but only if you take my place and take on some of these tough challenges. I'm the one that demanded a full-time AD, so all sports could succeed. I'm the one that wants to fund raise for all sports. Not this stupid system of fend for yourself so the whole town suffers...

    You're an idiot, you don't know me or know what you're talking about. You want to accuse me of something, then be a man and name the place and the time, I'll be there. Then you'll hear the truth. Cowards have no place in this world. Your children should be ashamed of you.

    Oh and by the way, I supported Steve Hodges for AD and SSD. Your paranoid delusions are just plain dumb. Shut up and do something good you selfish, whiny, wimp.

  9. OK — enough. Back to the show.

    Priority: The district has had considerable success in cultivating public-private partnerships with non-profits.

    The strength of the arts and music programs in SSD are in part attributable to the engagement of the Sisters Folk Festival.

    The Farm Bureau has contributed to making AG education viable. The Sisters Science Club in its first year of existence has enhanced math and science education in SSD.

    The same model could be applied to business education. Tap the resources within the community.

    There are issues with credentialing, but those can be figured out.

    These kinds of partnerships should be expanded and deepened.

    Jim Cornelius, Editor

  10. First, let me say I have nor have I ever had any children in the Sisters schools. I do, however know a number of past and current students and consider them fine young people who have done well in the Sisters system
    Second, I have always supported the the local option and will do so again. Why? Because I have great confidence in both the school administration, the school board, and especially the teachers.
    The question then is, as I see it, is what can/should we do to improve the system such that our graduates can compete successfully in an increasingly competitive world.
    The arts, music, sports and such are important as they expand a persons horizon and probably keep some kids in school. What I suggest is tht we establish academically demanding courses, based on grade level, in math, science, phisics, and the like. I make this recommendation based on my reading of the book "That Used To Be Us" by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. I recommend that bookto everyone, especially the school board and parents of Sisters school children. If you can't read the complete book, at least read parts !! and III. Give me a call and I'll loan you my copy.

  11. WoW..lots of emotion and opinions..I have had 2 children go from kindergarten to was a "TAG" and one completly bombed in public school system...what a diffence in how you are treated by teachers and administrators when you have a good kid and a bad kid.I lost faith in the public school system..pulled my"bad" kid out in his freshman year and home-schooled him.There is a real division of the haves and have nots that pervades into the schools here as well as the community.I have seen lots of mistakes and self serving agenda amongst the board and administration and will not vote for any more money to be thrown at a system that is being run by (see example above) by an adult(?)that resorts to name calling childish,agressive behavior rather then sticking to the facts. Locals have not forgotten the "no" accountability after the 1.5 million episode and the bond option we were not allowed to vote on. It seems to be all about appearences rather than substance.

  12. As a single, working parent, I believe in and put my trust the SSD and the Board since I am, personally, unable to attend meetings, etc.

    I don't know if you realize what fantastic schools we really have here in Sisters and what a blessing it is to have caring folks who dedicate their time to help make the best choices for all of our children.

    If you were to compare any of Sisters Schools with other schools in the area, you would find that our district and teachers do a great job of leading our children to their potential. My children have soared academically.

    During a tough family situation, we had to leave SSD for a short time and the kids attended other Central Oregon Schools. My kids commented often that they had "already learned" that in Sisters, what their school at the time was teaching. Sisters is ahead of the game in academics as well as arts, music, sports, etc.

    Regardless of where we are, we will have differences of opinion on what's important, etc. But we really have no place to whine and complain if we are not there getting involved. Sure it would be nice if we could have "everything" but we do not live in such a world.

    It's time to stand up, be thankful and throw whatever support we are able at our schools here!

    Thank you administrators, board members and teachers of Sisters School District for all that YOU DO!

  13. Andy, you need to be a little thicker skinned. I don't think you're setting a very good example here with your tone. At least not from a guy that sits on the Boards of Education and Parks and Rec.

    Bob Chandler

  14. Bob,

    I was attacked, falsely, personally and anonymously. Taking on the school yard bully is rooted in chivalric tradition.

    It may not make some people feel comfortable, but it was completely warranted given the circumstances. I was perfectly calm when I wrote that reply, my skin was unmarred and still rather thick. It was my sensibility that was challenged by the act of a coward.

    Being elected to sit on a Board does not mean I have to sit silently and allow false ravings to go unchecked.

    Also, do me a favor, my name is Andrew or Drew, please don't call me Andy. Since you know me, you could have handled this admonition privately, it's curious to me that you chose to do it in this forum.

    I hope that this whole foolish rant goes away and the people that read and talk about it instead invest their energy in supporting the new Athletic Director, the Superintendent, Teachers and Staff as they struggle through the worst professional challenges that most of them have faced in their careers.

    There are very real problems requiring real work, the most important of which is addressing a decline in enrollment that could cost Sisters one of it's most valuable assets. Chewing on school board members and the Superintendent about staff cuts is not going to make any of this better. I'd like to see all of the energy being expended on chatter instead be invested in working towards real solutions.

  15. Wow .. "Thin skin" ? No kidding ,,

  16. "Since you know me, you could have handled this admonition privately, it's curious to me that you chose to do it in this forum."

    Yes, Bob could have talked to Andrew in private, which some could label a mistake on his part (or not, IMHO).

    But Andrew compounds Bob's single mstake with two of his own: Andrew could have replied to Bob in private. Instead, Andrew replies to Bob "in this forum", treating Bob exactly how he did not want to be treated. And Andrew proves Bob's main argument (thin skin) in his reply.

  17. If you "take" on the school bully in school here in Sisters you will be brought your self down by going to their level...stick to the facts...

  18. As you are asking for input, comments, and concerns from the public about the Sisters District’s budget challenges from the general public, they are less likely to respond with a Sisters Board member like Andrew G. ready to call you stupid, an idiot and a coward.

    I have heard people refer to him as self-centered, prideful, arrogant, and someone with an attitude of “look what I am doing for you Sisters”. Unfortunately for Andrew, he has proven to me the “here say” comments are true. I am embarrassed to acknowledge that Andrew is a Sisters School Board member.

    Yes there are challenges ahead of the Sisters School District and as a concerned tax payer, parent, graduate, and student should feel free to address their concerns, opinions and impressions on how the schools are being run without bullying and threatening comments from a Sisters School Board.

    My thoughts:
    1) Increase advance communication to parents about any program changes, additional cuts, etc. by using the School Loop system to send out the School Board agenda and upcoming meeting topics.
    2) Explain in general terms how programs or teachers are removed....I think it starts with a recommendation from the Principal, approval by Superintendent, budget committee approved and Board adoption. By the time a concern gets to the budget committee level, it is less likely to be overturned.
    3) Hold the decision makers accountable by starting with the Principals and asking explanation to support his/her decisions for change.
    4) Require all concerns to go through the chains of command.

    Thank you.

  19. After 19 comments, there has been only a few extractable comments that could be used to share with the school board as the original question proposed. It appears 1)communication to the public is still a primary concern, 2)union questions/concerns (If San Jose CA, San Diego CA and Wisconsin can do something about it so can we), 3) Sports de-emphasis,coaches and 4)emphasis and criteria for selection of public school programs and teacher retention are topics that can be voiced as concerns to the school board. The intent of this forum is to see what the public is thinking are primary concerns and to garner numbers to back up these concerns. I really appreciate the format the July 3rd entree left was specific concerns albeit with some opinions as well but at lease specific concerns. If you agree with the 4 stated general broad groups then please say so with your name or an anonymous moniker so some real numbers can be associated with these concerns and some constructive steps can begin to move in the Fall when we find ourselves back in the School season.
    Thank you from originator of the blog that stemmed from the Public meeting at the high school in June when we were told by Jim Golden "this is what we did" and there are many qualified opinions who feel left out of the decision making process who would now want to engage in future decisions.

  20. By my observations, Andrew was personally attacked and blamed solely for the challenges our district currently faces first. I too would of taken issue with such immaturity.
    First off, he does not have that much power and his one vote isn't the end all be all. Secondly, who in their right mind would VOLUNTEER for such abuse unless they truly care about this community and our kids.
    As a school board member should he name call? Probably not. But as an American citizen does he have the right to? Absolutely. He is not to blame for our situation, nor is Jim Golden.
    Let's utilize our time and energies to make the best of a bad situation. Lets talk about ideas and solutions. Get involved and stop Attacking the very people givng their time and resources. Someone has to go, bottom line and the decisions aren't easy. We were heart broken at the thought of losing Kevin Cotner, but it certainly was no one persons fault.
    I choose to write this anonymously, not out of fear, but because my children who may or may not agree with my position shouldn't suffer retribution due to my opinion.
    Finally, don't hate on the lacrosse club because it's successful. Learn something from it, it's successful because of the leadership who runs it!
    Thank you Andrew and Jim and all the rest who serve for the good of my kids and this community.

  21. I think that one of the biggest frustrations for the community (and areas where the school board/district could use the most improvement) is in the way that it is involved with the schools. I think that the board/administration needs to approach their decision-making in a more collaborative way, by involving all that will be affected before, instead of after the fact.
    Among the people who should be involved are parents, community members, and students/teachers. Unfortunately, I believe that these last two groups especially are undervalued. I know that many of the teachers were frustrated about the RIFS this past year, and feel as though they had no input into the staffing decisions have been made. We have to remember that these are individuals who are extremely qualified at what they do, and by confiding in them and seeking out their opinions, they might have better solutions to some of the problems we face. Additionally, by supporting them, and showing that we value them, they will be able to be more successful in the challenging current times, and hopefully remain invested in our district. We have already lost some excellent staff members due to their frustration with their lack of input – they want to help just as much as we do!
    I also think that it is unfair to blame the union at this point; while the current union system may be outdated and damaging, we can’t expect the union to cooperate and be more proactive if the district/board is not communicating with them well. The board needs to approach union negotiations much earlier, determine what the problems are, and work WITH (not against) the union to fix these problems.
    Students should also be involved. We often overlook them, and focus on “what’s best for our students.” But the best way to find out is to ask them. When there are budget cuts, for example, why are we not polling the student body to see what programs they value most, and which ones they are okay seeing leave? With the business program for example, doing this could have let us know whether students really valued and used the program (in which case it should have been kept) or if they were okay seeing it leave. If there are only fifteen kids who wanted to keep it, as opposed to fifty who want to keep something else, then maybe it was the best program to let go. The sad reality is we can’t keep everything, but we need to keep students engaged, and right now that might have to mean choosing one program over another.
    Very similarly, I do believe that there needs to be a better system for community involvement (not just input) I believe it is fair to say that you should have to be involved and invested in the schools before you get an input in the decisions that are made, so it might be a good idea to put together a committee of admin, staff, community members, and student organization leaders (ASB president, etc) who can work to determine needs in the schools, and then communicate to parents and community members in a more effective way to get the help that is needed. For example, the art teacher is able to provide much better education at the high school because she has two or three regular volunteers who come in and are able to provide more individualized attention and assistance to students. We have many retired professionals in the community, so why don’t we see volunteers like this in every program?
    Concerned Citizen

  22. 87Concerned Citizen, best comments yet, love to hear more like that.
    This is not a blog about Andrew G so no more comments about him please

  23. I just had the pleasure of catching up on all things Sisters. Including the Nugget and her blog. A few observations...

    You're right, this blog is not about Andrew G. But Andrew G. sure has a way of taking just about everything he touches and making it about himself. He's one of the most polarizing figures to ever grace this blog with a comment. Or in his case, many, many comments. He obviously likes the sound of his own voice.

    And chivalrous??? Andrew G. has a reputation of being one of the biggest bullies in town. Just ask anyone who's seen him push his way around a meeting.

    Just look at his words here, "Your paranoid delusions are just plain dumb. Shut up and do something good you selfish, whiny, wimp."

    Oh,and I like how he takes credit for the new AD hire. He "demanded it" and it happened. Impressive.

    So no, this blog isn't about Andrew G. But if you think people are just going to sit by and listen to his crap. Well...