Skyline High School, a small experimental school in Bend, will close this fall and combine with Realms High School. The two magnet schools opened four years ago and already share a warehouse on Brinson Boulevard.
“We have decided to unify the two schools under one high school at the Brinson campus,” said Katie Legace, executive director of high school programs for Bend-La Pine Schools.
The main reason for Skyline’s closure was significant staff turnover, with 50% of the teachers, the principal and office manager deciding to leave, according to a recent newsletter from Realms High School. In addition, the newsletter said enrollment was lower than expected next year, with fewer than 25 freshmen confirmed to attend, and there were some questions about how to expand the school in the future.
“When we became aware that some of the staff would be leaving at the end of the school year, (the principals) approached us about unifying those schools,” Legace said.
Most of the Skyline students have chosen to transfer to Realms. Enrollment at Realms for next school year will increase from about 150 to 240. At least 40 more spots are still open.
“It’s an adjustment, but we are feeling like it’s really going to enrich the educational opportunities for the students at both schools,” Legace said.
Legace said combining the schools is a natural fit because both are considered expeditionary learning schools, where the curriculum takes students outside of the classroom to tackle real world problems, like poverty and homelessness.
“They have a similar mission and values,” Legace said. “They share the facility, equipment, staff and most importantly they have really similar educational beliefs and practices. They both offer creative, out-of-school educational opportunities.”
Both schools were developed to offer local students more options for their education and more environments to learn rather than the larger traditional high schools in Bend. Four years later, both schools are celebrating their first graduating classes this week.
“Skyline was a high school that came out of this idea of trying to find different ways to provide education for students, knowing students are unique individuals and one size doesn’t fit all,” Legace said.
Realms High School was created as students graduated from Realms Middle School in Bend. Eventually, Bend-La Pine Schools would like to have both Realms schools on the same campus.
But for now, the school district wants to use the resources it has to support the Realms schools, Legace said.
“We are always trying to show we are good stewards of public resources,” Legace said.