Despite budget cuts. Despite losing staff. Despite larger classes. McNary High School was standing tall this week after the Oregon Department of Education released its report cards on Oregon schools.
The Celts improved their rating from “satisfactory” to “outstanding” in the annual ratings. McNary was the only high school in the Salem-Keizer School District to improve its rating in the assessments and one of a select few in the state to do so.
“The work we’re doing is the right work and we’ve demonstrated that now,” said John Honey, McNary principal. “There was concern from some parents with classes beginning later one day a week, but it’s not a bad idea because look what’s happening. We’re using our time purposefully and to the right means and right end.”
Oregon School Report Cards provide an overview of school data. The data includes Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings, information on student test performance and school improvement, attendance, graduation rates, dropout rates, class size, SAT scores, expulsions due to weapons, teacher education and experience, and information on student growth.
The final rating is based on four factors: achievement index, which is rated according to meeting state assessment standards; graduation rate; participation, which is the percentage of students taking state assessments; and AYP ratings.
McNary saw a 14 percent increase in students meeting state standards in reading and math.
The only blemish on McNary’s record this year was failure to meet AYP goals. AYP goals are broken down into several subgroups and a few narrow misses kept the school from a lights out performance. In regard to the report cards, improvements in other areas made up for the deficit in AYP and earned the school the “outstanding” rating, Honey said.
Schools are assessed based on the test scores of each year’s eleventh grade class.
Honey credited former McNary principal Ken Parshall with laying the groundwork for success. It created a space for teachers to focus on discrete daily objectives, he said.
“Since then, we’ve worked with our department leaders aligning curriculum with state standards,” Honey said. “Narrowing focus has been key. The district’s literacy efforts have helped.”
Enlisting the school’s elective program leaders in the push to hone reading and math skills also aided the effort, Honey added, “Successful elective programs like choir are driven by the teacher recruiting kids. They can’t recruit them if they are playing catch up in reading and math.”
While the school earned a breather with the news, Honey said McNary faculty weren’t planning any vacations.
“It’s not unrealistic to think we can maintain our outstanding rating and meet AYP goals,” he said.
Report card ratings for other Keizer schools were generally strong. Claggett Creek Middle School, Cummings Elementary, Forest Ridge Elementary, Keizer Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, and Weddle Elementary maintained their satisfactory rating. Clear Lake Elementary School was rated outstanding for a third consecutive year. Gubser Elementary was rated outstanding for a second consecutive year. Whiteaker Middle School was the only school to slip in ratings, it went from outstanding to satisfactory.
A proposed community garden in east Keizer has neighbors split.
Tanya Hamilton is proposing it be placed on an undeveloped portion of right-of-way called Brandon Avenue, which is between Harcourt Avenue and 12th Avenue NE. She proposes a partnership with Marion-Polk Food Share, which says such gardens are “a wonderful way to beautify the city, bring people together, provide healthy food for local families, and create a sense of community in the neighborhood.”
The parcel in question is in effect a pedestrian walkway, partially blocked off to vehicle traffic.
But two neighbors wondered aloud at Monday night’s Keizer City Council meeting if the wrong kind of people might be attracted by a new addition.
Jan Ramos noted police statistics showing that district (Keizer is divided into four) had the highest number of crime incidents in 2010.
“We don’t need any more traffic down the street,” Ramos said. “We don’t need any more people over there.”
She and Delores Teipel presented a petition from neighbors who said they didn’t want the garden.
“I feel our houses will wear these vegetables,” said Teipel, who fears vandalism.
Hamilton said she has the support of many homes which would surround the garden. She said it would give children a constructive recreational activity and help participants eat heathy.
And Ian Dixon-McDonald, community gardens coordinator for Marion-Polk Food Share, sees more potential for positive interaction among neighbors than problems.
“In my mind, a garden is making a neighborhood more out in the open, more vigilant and encourages community building,” Dixon-McDonald said.
Keizer Police Chief Marc Adams said he hasn’t seen data to indicate whether or not community gardens bring incidents with them.
“Depends on what you’re growing,” Adams joked, adding he doesn’t “see it as an attractive nuisance for crime.”
Councilors ultimately asked staff to look into whether a garden can even be developed on right-of-way, which City Attorney Shannon Johnson said isn’t the same as land owned outright by the city. Staffers were also asked to explore feasibility of providing irrigation water on-site.
Keizer has community gardens at John Knox Presbyterian Church, Mike Whittam Park, Southeast Keizer Community Garden at Salem Mennonite Church and the Candide Community Garden at United Way.
An area just north of Keizer is now used to train dogs for the Salem Police Department.
The facility, at the Willow Lake Water Pollution Control Facility on 5915 Windsor Island Road N, has been in operation since Aug. 3.
The training course, a longtime dream of the Salem police department, has 26 obstacles and training stations that train both patrol and narcotics dogs and will be used for annual certifications.
Dennis Miller of Silverton, the project manager, said that after reading in a newspaper that the department was interested in building a dog-training facility, so he contacted the foundation, volunteered to head the project and recruited his family to help. The facility was completed in 10 months, and at the ceremony, Miller thanked the many donors and volunteers involved.
“The ball just got rolling faster and faster and never slowed down,” Canine Sgt. Steve Smith of the Salem department said.
Lt. Dave Okada of the Salem police said the facility is state-of-the-art and the first one to be part of the department. Previously, he said, the department worked with other agencies for training dogs.
Okada added that the Willow Lake facility was donated by the Salem Public Works Department. Other major donors were:
*Kilgore Blackman, 100 boards (2 by 4 by 14) as well as cedar and screws.
*Parr Lumber, 50 boards (4×4).
*Outdoor Fence, black gate used in the fence jump and stakeout posts.
*Ram Steel, three-inch tube for the scratch wall.
*Mak Metals, Dallas, engineering, laser measuring as technical time forming base assemblies on the scratch wall and gussets. These donations were used to develop an instant-reward multiple-scent delivery system.
*The McKay High School construction technologies class, taught by Kerry Green. This included 370 man-hours donated by students.
*JK Nursery, more than $500 worth of trees.
*The Salem police canine team and other police department employees, many hours of labor.
Okada said the donations included 18 gallons of Belmont Green exterior paint, 304 individual 2×4 boards, 56 individual 4×4 boards, 132 furring strips with 2×2 trim pieces, 39 full sheets of plywood, more than 700 lifetime guarantee screws totaling more than 15 pounds, and 33 tubes of exterior liquid nails glue.