OSD referendum likely delayed

After talking things over with a group of teachers and administrators at a special meeting Monday night, it appears the Oregon School Board will postpone a proposed teacher compensation referendum members had hoped to place on the April ballot. 

Board members had originally planned on adding the referendum – $2.9 million annually in its most recent form – to $55 million in buildings referendums that were on the November ballot. In August, however, the board decided to hold off on adding the teacher compensation measure due to a lack of information. 

With less than a week before a deadline for the board to get the referendum on the April ballot, it seems there is still a lack of information, as well as some concerns among residents about its proposed cost, scope and methodology.


Keeping an eye on the weather

When you live in Wisconsin, it’s fair to expect cold, snowy spells that can make life difficult.

But when severe winter weather makes things downright dangerous, school districts tasked with the care of hundreds of children have the responsibility to keep them safe by making the right call on canceling or delaying schools. In Oregon, those decisions are made either the night before or in the early morning on the day school is scheduled, after consulting both with local weather reports and other area schools.

Last week, Oregon joined many other school districts around the state in closing its doors, but others in the area, including Madison, did not. In a letter sent to district parents last week, district superintendent Brian Busler said the main criteria for closing in cases of cold weather is wind chill. 


OSD survey: Concerns with referendum

Data from Oregon School District Survey. A majority of respondents indicated they would not vote "yes" on a referendum question to fund the new compensation model.

When the Oregon School Board started planning for referendums last year after the spring elections, addressing both teacher compensation and building projects at once was a goal. 

That changed by the end of summer, when the board voted to hold the teacher compensation referendum until April 2015.

The $55 million November building projects referendums passed easily, but with the board just weeks from a deadline to decide on sending a compensation referendum to the ballot in April, there seem to be many more questions than answers.


Getting a jump on the job market

Photo by Matt Hill. OHS senior Lucas Knipfer works on his carpentry project at last month’s SkillsUSA competition held at Oregon High School. He took home first place in the “carpentry” category.

Some of the best jobs in today’s marketplace are skilled trades, and a group of Oregon High School students recently helped their impending transition to the “real world” by competing in the SkillsUSA district competition last month. Oregon High School hosted the event, with nearly 200 students from 14 schools participating in categories focused on skills needed for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.  

OHS teachers Erik Haakenson and Ryan Stace, advisors for the program, were excited about students’ participation, as well as Oregon hosting the district competition for the first time.  Haakenson said students were able to compete at no cost to themselves, thanks to their recent snowblower tune-up fundraiser, and OHS was able to host the event with some help  from local businesses.   


OHS students in state honor choir

Photo submitted. Oregon High School freshmen Sean Cashman and Erin Schultz were chosen to sing with the Wisconsin State Honors Music Project Middle Level Honor Choir last year.

Sean Cashman used to get in trouble for singing during class. Now, he’s been named to the state honors choir program for the second straight year.

Cashman and fellow Oregon High School freshman Erin Schultz were chosen to sing with the Wisconsin State Honors Music Project Middle Level Honor Choir, performing with the group Nov. 1 at the Marriott West, the final day of the Wisconsin Music Educators Conference.

The duo was honored for their efforts during their eighth grade school year, with an audition process that involved preparing a selection from the Wisconsin School Music Association list at a Class B level or higher, vocalizing exercises, sight-singing assessment and a brief ensemble class. 

Practice makes perfect

Cashman, who first started singing in school choirs when he was in third grade, started because he simply enjoyed singing.


Green and Growing

Photo submitted. The arboretum at Netherwood Knoll Elementary School was recently certified as a Nature Explore outdoor classroom, just the second in Wisconsin. Nature Explore is a collaborative program of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation that works to transform children’s lives through science-based outdoor classroom design. Last school year, students shown here worked on a project in their outdoor classroom.

It may be the coldest and darkest time of the year, but spring weather and fields of flowers seem just a bit closer thanks to the Netherwood Knoll Arboretum recently becoming certified as a “Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom,” only the second such certification in Wisconsin.

Nature Explore is a collaborative program of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation that works to transform children's lives through science-based outdoor classroom design.

In recent years, students, staff and volunteers have worked hard to rehabilitate a space outside the school into an outdoor classroom with art gardens, a stream/pond area with waterfalls, a climbing structure, raised vegetable beds, a sand area, dirt digging area and a geology labyrinth/exploration area, among other features.


School district to help with flu study

It’s flu season once again, but this month, the Oregon School District will be a laboratory for a research project designed to identify early signs of flu outbreaks in communities.

Dr. Jon Temte, long-time Oregon resident and professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, will direct the project. His research team was recently awarded a $1.5 three-year grant by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow trends in student absences from school, test ill students for flu and other respiratory viruses and compare the data to clinic activity and various flu surveillance reports in Wisconsin.

The team will begin monitoring student absences on Jan. 5. Tempte said the goal of the study is to determine what role influenza plays in absenteeism and then correlate that to influenza data in clinics to see what patterns emerge.


Zach, Ramin to run for re-election to school board in April

Incumbent Oregon School Board members Steve Zach and Jeff Ramin announced this week they will both seek re-election to three-year terms in April. Their two seats are open among seven board positions.

Zach, an Oregon native and education lawyer by trade, has been on the board since 1999. Ramin, a software engineer, has been on the board since 2012, when he defeated long-time incumbent Deedra Atkinson by 14 percentage points.

Recent years have not been kind to incumbents on the school board, in fact, the last incumbent to retain a school board seat was Zach, who in 2012 outpolled write-in candidate Dan Krause (now the board president) by an unofficial margin of 2,545 to 1,079. 


OHS principal placed on leave after multiple OWI arrests

Oregon High School principal Kelly Meyers has been placed under “administrative leave” by school district officials after she was arrested three times earlier this month on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. 

If convicted, that would make her the second straight OHS principal to be arrested for OWI, following a previous principal’s arrest in 2008.

District superintendent Brian Busler told the Observer on Monday that Meyers, who had been on medical leave since the beginning of the school year, was arrested Dec. 1, 10 and 11 for incidents in Oregon and Fitchburg. He said district officials found out about the arrests last week and emailed a letter to parents Monday afternoon. 


Hour of Code

Many district students participated “national “Hour of Code” projects last week. A group of Rome Corners Intermediate School sixth-graders kept busy Dec. 12 with coding assignments that blended fun and learning.