Board looks to increase bullying awareness, education after complaints

It could not have been easy for a pair of Oregon High School girls to go in front of the school board Jan. 11 and talk about how they had been bullied and sexually harassed at the school, but their act of courage is having an effect.

The girls, whose names are being  withheld to protect their privacy) gave emotional pleas to board members, talking about how the incidents affected their lives – and how they wanted to see a change in how the district treats bullying. A parent of one of the girls wrote a letter to the district, asking for changes to be made in the co-curricular code before the end of the school year to “start the journey to a safer high school environment.”


Familiar face named new OHS principal

Former Oregon Middle School principal Jim Pliner is coming home. 

Pliner was hired as the new principal at Oregon High School, the district announced Tuesday. He will start July 1, taking over for Kelly Meyers, who resigned in February after she was convicted of drunken driving. OHS associate principal Jason Wilhelm has been serving as interim principal this school year – as Meyers was on leave before her resignation – and he will continue in that role through June.

Pliner has spent 22 years in the Madison School District, where he is currently associate principal at Madison La Follette High School, as well as three years in the Oregon School District, where was middle school principal from 2010-13. He said it “feels good” to come back to Oregon, where his family has lived since 2010, and where two of his children attend OHS.


Brooklyn elementary teacher honored by Red Cross

Brooklyn Elementary School teacher Dale Schulz will be among those honored by the American Red Cross at the “Southwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast,” to be held May 6 in Madison.

According to a news release from the American Red Cross, the people to be honored are “ordinary people whose actions embody the values of the Red Cross, and demonstrate the potential that is in all of us.”

Schulz, of Evansville, will be honored as the 2015 “Hero of a Lifetime” for his lifelong commitment to bettering his community, especially through his education of elementary students in Basic Aid Training and disaster preparedness, according to the release.  He has been a volunteer Red Cross Basic Aid Training instructor since 1991, training around 100 fourth-grade students each year. He will retire from teaching in June. 


2015 Oregon School Board candidate questionnaires

Click a name below to read the candidates' answers to our questionnaire:

Marilyn McDole
Steve Zach


PTO Science Fair photos

The Oregon PTO Science Fair “Pi Day of the Century” was held at Prairie View Elementary School on Saturday, March 14. Students showed off their projects and had the chance to watch demonstrations by University of Wisconsin students and professors.


Referendum projects get set to begin

Renderings courtesy Bray Architects. This design shows the planned changes to the space between Prairie View and Netherwood Knoll elementary schools, slated for completion by Sept. 1 of this year.

With another cold winter rolling into the rear-view mirror, Oregon School District officials are looking forward to getting started on several referendum building projects. 

The first set of projects from the $55 million referendum voters passed in November has been designed and is almost ready to begin. Those include adding to and modernizing Brooklyn’s space and its front entrance and revamping the pickup and parking areas in front of Prairie View and Netherwood Knoll, as well as upgrading the heating and air conditioning systems. Oregon Middle School will also get a new, more secure entrance. 

Those are just the beginning, with the full set of projects not expected to start until at least next year, including around $36.8 million worth of upgrades at the high school and $7.8 million at the middle school.


State budget would cut aid, change tests

Public school officials around the state are speaking out against Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial State Education 2015-17 budget proposal.

That includes Oregon School District administrators and school board members, who drafted a letter to Walker and other legislators outlining their problems with some proposals, including a large cut to state funding and new limits on revenue caps that local school boards can set. 

While a cut to the expected increase in per-student funding and revenue caps would likely have the greatest effect on the day-to-day operations of the district and on residents’ property taxes, that’s not the only major change possibly ahead. 


Trying to make amends

File photo by Seth Jovaag Kelly Meyers gives directions at a church during a gas leak evacuation in 2011.

It was there in black and white on the police reports, but it was still difficult to fathom.

Kelly Meyers, one of the brightest lights in the Oregon School District and a beloved and well-respected educator, was arrested three times in December, all for drunken driving. She resigned last month from a job she held dear to her heart and resigned herself to the reality that she would likely never get another chance to be a school administrator.

The dashing of a dream, and an exemplary 30-year career in education, was sudden and severe. Now, three months after a depression-fueled alcohol relapse that had friends worried about her very survival, she is trying to put her life back together, hoping to use her experiences to help prevent others from going down a similarly destructive path.


School board considers eliminating committees

Addressing concerns about committees “going rogue” and creating problems for district administrators in recent months, Oregon School Board members discussed an overhaul of the committee system Monday night. 

Board members spent considerable time talking about the pros and cons of such a change, and by the end of the meeting they seemed to reach a consensus: They’ll search for a compromise that might eliminate some committees but try to avoid scrapping the current system altogether.

The proposal, put forward by district administrators, would replace five standing committees (policy, human assets, physical assets, financial assets and vision steering) with a “committee of the whole” that would be attended by all board members once a month, followed by a board meeting in which members could vote on items. 


Teaching Tolerance in Oregon

Photos by Scott Girard Oregon Middle School literature teacher Amy Vatne-Bintliff, center, holds a “talking piece” during a recent “restorative justice circle” with students in her classroom last week to help students communicate respectfully with each other.

Oregon has a growing reputation as a great place to live and raise a family, but it’s not necessarily racially diverse.

As students prepare to enter a global workforce and outside world teeming with diversity, the Oregon School District has a nationally recognized expert to show them how to learn about others who are different from them.

Oregon Middle School literature teacher Amy Vatne-Bintliff was among five teachers honored last July with the national 2014 Teacher of Excellence Award from “Teaching Tolerance,” a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dr. June C. Christian, a teaching and learning specialist at the center, called Vatne-Bintliff a “special person and an expert social justice educator.”