Give your feedback

Bend-La Pine Schools has planned four public meetings to gain feedback about small high school options. The meetings will take place over four days at four locations:

• 5-7 p.m. Monday at Bend High School

• 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at La Pine High School

• 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Summit High School

• 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Mountain View High School

For more information on the community meetings, visit bit.ly/BLPStrandHighSchools.

Bend-La Pine Schools will take its next step toward planning small high school options in the school district when it asks for feedback from community members this week at a series of public meetings.

The school district has four main high schools: Mountain View, Summit and Bend High in Bend and La Pine High School in La Pine. It also has an alternative school, Marshall High, in Bend.

Other than Marshall, which students generally attend to catch up on credits, there isn’t another option for students who aren’t interested in large schools, according to Lora Nordquist, assistant superintendent.

“In (kindergarten) through (grade) eight we have magnets and other options, but not at the high school level,” Nordquist said.

Bend-La Pine has three magnet elementary schools. In addition, it offers Rimrock Expeditionary Alternative Learning Middle School, Bend International School, which is a kindergarten through eighth grade charter, and beginning this school year, Desert Sky Montessori, serving kindergarten through third grade.

While existing high schools offer a variety of programs, from Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes to career and technical education courses, the majority of a student’s day is dotted with standard courses.

The trend of offering alternative options for high school students is a nationally growing one, Nordquist said. Bend-La Pine’s small high school options, which it’s calling strand programs, would be self-contained high schools meant to allow students to focus some of their studies, for example, in science or art.

Now, the school district is considering three options for how it could implement the strand high schools.

Bend-La Pine could:

• Include the small high school options within large high schools

• Find space in Bend where the small high school options would be located

Move the existing Bend High (including its programs and staff) to a yet-to-be-built new high school in southeast Bend. The current Bend High campus would then host the small high school options.

With a portion of the money from the $268 million bond voters approved in May, Bend-La Pine plans to build a high school in southeast Bend, which would open at the earliest in fall 2021. A large part of the school district’s push for the bond’s passage was to meet growth needs. At a school board meeting last month, Bend-La Pine’s superintendent said the strand high school options need to serve 1,600 to 1,700 students, or the option is off the table.

At four meetings this week at each of the district’s four large high schools, community members are invited to share their feedback about the small high school options.

Those who can’t make it to the meetings can fill out an online survey at surveymonkey.com/r/smallHSoptions from 5 p.m. Monday to 5 p.m. Thursday. A steering committee overseeing the implementation of the strand high schools, made up of Assistant Superintendent Nordquist, a principal, teacher and student from each high school, as well as a couple of community members, will study the feedback, then make a recommendation to Superintendent Shay Mikalson this fall.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, kfisicaro@bendbulletin.com

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