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Letters 11/20 - 11/28 

The Selling of a University

The Bulletin said it was going to publish this letter about a month ago. Apparently, it has been spiked.

The editorials in The Bulletin supporting the Westside location of OSU-Cascades lack the systematic analysis demanded by such an important issue. Instead, The Bulletin is selling the University much like Professor Harold Hill sold a boys' band to the good citizens of River City.  The Bulletin has ignored costs a university can impose on a community, overlooked the anomalies in the land acquisition process, claimed economic benefits it cannot substantiate, and failed to make any serious inquiry about student demand for OSU-Cascades. Let's review each failing in turn:  

Fiscal ImpactThe Bulletin argues OSU-Cascades is a "bargain for Bend." The University will use city police and fire service. The University also plans to use Skyliner Sports Complex as its recreational facility. Since the University is exempted from the property tax, it will not pay for these services. Nor is it clear the municipal pricing of water and sewer service will cover the marginal costs incurred in meeting the increased demand generated by the University.

Land Acquisition–A University spokesperson has said if the University cannot purchase the larger 43-acre parcel due to remediation costs, it will go ahead and purchase the smaller site (10.44 acres) and lease a series of surrounding buildings. Does a 10-acre main campus make sense? Why is the sale of this small parcel so vital? 

The University plans to pay $12.8 million for the two parcels. The County Assessor puts the real market value of these properties at $4.3 million. It is possible the Assessor's property value model needs to be drastically revised. The University is set to pay $477,000 an acre for the smaller 10-acre parcel. The larger parcel will cost about approximately $183,000 per acre before remediation. In the same time frame, The Bulletin reported on the sale of 50 acres in south Bend for $100,000 an acre. Is the premium for Westside property so high it swamps the effects of being next to a dump and the problems of building on top of a pumice mine?

Economic BenefitsThe Bulletin argues the University will bring high end jobs to Central Oregon. This may be true—especially if you count university administrators—but The Bulletin does not cite any published research or even offer a solitary example to support its claim. Lacking hard data on economic benefits, The Bulletin resorted to promoting more ethereal benefits when it wrote the University "will enhance our culture and expand our horizon." This argument is both pure puffery and condescending to the unfortunate Bendites who had not realized their horizon was so limited.

Demand for OSU-Cascades—The marketing plan for the University appears to be taken from "The Field of Dreams." That is, "If we build it, they will come. " It has become increasingly apparent, however, that the rate of return for degrees from some colleges and majors is negative.  This has led to drops in enrollment in colleges across the country. In response, universities have become more competitive in an effort to fill seats. It is difficult to see how OSU-Cascades can be competitive in the Octagon of student recruitment.  OSU-Cascades will suffer from diseconomies of scale, limited facilities, a disjointed campus, and an unfortunate acronym. To end on a positive note, all of this suggests The Bulletin may finally be right when it concluded traffic will not be a problem.

—Laurence Dougharty

In reply to "The Appiest Place on Earth," (Feature, 11/14)

Let's talk for a minute about the inequality between schools in the same district. Summit with its million-dollar football field and Westside kids (who I can almost guarantee already have an iPad at home) really didn't need to be the pilot program. How about Bend High and La Pine High being the test group. At Bend High there are numerous classrooms that don't even have enough textbooks for all the kids. I was in a history classroom where there were 3 textbooks and the teacher had to copy pages for handouts so the kids could study. Who needs an iPad more?

—Ruth Ann Baker

U.S. schools have generally always had a technology advantage over their foreign counterparts, but this does not seem to be generating the critical skills in math, science or reading needed in preparation for higher education and the demands of a very competitive global world. Many countries have experienced an impressive improvement in achievement compared to the U.S., while ours has remained relatively flat even thought we greatly out spend them on a per student basis. In order to catch up the U.S. needs to be much more demanding in both the quality of our teachers and of what we expect from our students. Quite simply, we do not take education as seriously as those countries that are out achieving us. Education is very complicated and simply providing feel-good digital conversion programs will not alone solve the serious academic performance problems facing the U.S.


In reply to "A Good, but Incomplete Idea," News 10/24)

Beyond who sits on which committee and what funds they fire off into "Advertising Land" is a question of WHAT should be targeted and how to hit it. A clear and concise analysis on return on investment should be first and foremost Priority ONE. When relating to the "outside world," relying on local judgment and opinions on "established measurements" is an anemic approach at best—kinda like driving with your rear-view mirror. Bend needs the best marketing smarts who best understands the world and Bend's place and opportunities in it. Local opinion counts. But that's not necessarily using the "high beams."

—Dave Morgan

Calendar listing errors

Every Thursday evening, I devour the Source before dinner. This time, I stopped at the Calendar. Hmm, the River Pigs are playing at Checkers. I've heard they have a red-hot fiddle player that I wanted to hear. So I bundled up my girl and we headed up to Redmond.

We walk in the door and there are just a few pool players, but no band. The barkeep says, "No we don't ever have music on Thursday." So we had a beer and then headed back into the cold and went home.

You don't just need a spell checker; you need a fact checker too

—Tim Breeden

Letter of the Week!

Tim - Egg is on our face. We could give some excuses about Y2K computer glitches and human error, but how about we just say: We're really sorry. The River Pigs play NEXT month at Checkers. In the meantime, can we make it up to you? Stop by the office for a couple tickets to Tower Theatre Rockumentary Film Series.


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