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An Open Letter To Superintendent Wilkinson 

A letter to the editor concerning school boundary change proposals.

Dear Mr. Wilkinson,

As you are well aware of the public debate surrounding the current School Boundary change proposals, I see an opportunity for the Bend - La Pine School district to demonstrate true leadership and precedent for the entire community.  One of the most disturbing and worrisome aspects of this debate is the growing division in our community between north and south, which as you know is not healthy for a community.

I truly believe we have the best schools in this country, and we have the perfect opportunity to keep that badge of honor and not further divide the haves and the have-nots.  I cannot believe that most leaders in education would think it’s a good decision to bus a southwest Title I school twice as far as their neighborhood school to a northeast Title I school for the sake of overcrowding.

Unfortunately, there has been a misunderstanding in the media that the issue for parents is fear of change. I hope the district realizes that is not the case and does not ignore the extreme socio-economic status (SES) imbalance, the increased traffic and commute burden and the economic impact to a neighborhood that has already been financially burdened if this decision were voted in.

Mr. Wilkinson, you have the opportunity to demonstrate true leadership and innovation as our school superintendent and not rush this process.  We all have the opportunity to stop the accusations and name calling, further dividing neighbor against neighbor, and slow the process down to make changes that are long term and make sense for the entire Bend La-Pine School District and not make a hasty decision for the sake of urgency.

I would like to officially request the school board and the superintendent look at the option of redistricting the entire school district. With the 2010 census numbers the state of Oregon has decided to redistrict the entire state and we have the opportunity to do the same thing. We have the growth projections from the recent study by the Population Research Center at Portland State, which was commissioned by the Bend - La Pine School District as part of this current redistricting issue. The Center has been accurate in predicting growth for communities within a 1 percent margin, so we know that this can be a long-term solution for our entire community.

The one good thing this issue has highlighted is that parents truly care and want to be involved in the decision making process, which I think is a testament to the excellent quality of education of ALL of our schools.  Thank you for considering my request to slow the process and consider the option of redistricting the entire school district to reflect the population and growth trends within our community.

Sincerely yours,

– Shelley Hall, Bend

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