Transportation to their chosen school, more class options, mindful use of technology in the classroom: These were some of the points that parents shared with the Bend-La Pine school board Tuesday evening.

The board seated parents and other community members at 10 tables and asked them what they’d like to see change — or stay the same — in Bend-La Pine high schools.

But the most enthusiastically delivered idea came from a kid who isn’t old enough to attend high school.

Luke Loughrie, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Pacific Crest Middle School, brought a student perspective to the otherwise adult crowd of about 50 community members attending the meeting, held in the Silver Rail Elementary School gym. He’d like to see schools start later, which happens to be an ongoing discussion in Bend-La Pine Schools.

But in addition to thinking later start times are in the best interest of students — and research shows young people’s body clocks are generally set to go to sleep later and rise later — Luke had a few other points to share. He’d like for the school district to keep in mind the stress and anxiety kids experience today and he’d like to see smaller class sizes with a wider variety of options.

Participants Tuesday night were asked to write down their “greatest hopes” and “greatest concerns” for Bend-La Pine high schools, including the two new small high schools set to open in fall 2018 and the comprehensive high school planned to open in fall 2021.

People at one table said they like that Bend-La Pine Schools allows teens to choose which high school they attend. Bend-La Pine put limitations on transfers last school year to Bend High because of overcrowding there, but generally student transfer requests are accepted.

Crissy Christoferson, a parent of a sophomore at Bend High School and a sixth-grader at High Desert Middle School, shared her greatest hope and greatest concern with board member Peggy Kinkade and a few other participants: She wants to see high schools provide classes for different types of learners, and she’s worried that limited access to transportation could negatively affect their ability to go to a high school.

It’s excellent that Bend-La Pine parents have choices about which school to send their children too, but if students don’t attend their neighborhood school they typically can’t ride the school bus, Christoferson said.

“I’m concerned that the people in Bend who don’t have that ability to get their child to a choice school are going to be left behind,” Christoferson said.

Kinkade said transportation is a big consideration with the two new strand high schools, which will likely be located in leased space in northeast Bend.

“Transportation can really become a barrier to equal access,” Kinkade said.

The crowd Tuesday was told by Bend-La Pine Superintendent Shay Mikalson that their ideas would be considered, but no decisions would be made soon.

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

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