Oregon schools might get reimbursed for lead testing

Oregon school districts, including local districts 4J, Bethel and Springfield, might get reimbursed for money spent on lead testing that took place this summer. At the time the districts commenced the lead testing, there was no guarantee from the state that they would receive funding to cover the cost of the tests. According to a notice sent from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor to Oregon superintendents, the Oregon Legislature has set aside $5 million to help schools pay for lead testing in drinking water. Charters schools are eligible for the funding, according to the notice. Continue reading 

Opt-out Movement Continues in Lane County Public Schools

Numbers published by the Oregon Department of Education last week show that across Lane County, some parents and students continue to choose “opting out” of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, a standardized test introduced to Oregon public schools last year.  In Eugene School District 4J, 12.3 percent, or 1,121 students, did not participate in the math portion of the test. The number of opt-outs has remained relatively steady from last year. Continue reading 

Report from Oregon Educators Shows Consequences of Underfunding Schools

Oregon’s high school graduation rate ranked fourth lowest in the country in the 2013-14 school year; Oregon’s student-teacher ratio is a third higher than the U.S. average; two years ago, Oregon had the third largest class sizes in the U.S.  These painful statistics are so frequently cited that Oregonians almost go numb upon reading them, but as a new report by the Oregon Education Association (OEA) and other education advocates points out, Oregon must figure out a way to fully fund its schools if the state ever wants to see its rankings rise.  Continue reading 

Pretzels with a Twist

The Pretzel Wagon opens at LTD's downtown station

“I can ramble,” Jim Evangelista warns me with a twinkle in his eye as we sit down in his bakery off River Road. “And I’ve got lots to talk about.” Evangelista does have lots to talk about — mostly words of praise for all the people, organizations and institutions that came together to make the nonprofit Eugene bakery Reality Kitchen and its brand-new pretzel food cart a rollicking success. On Aug. 18, Lane Transit District finalized an agreement with Evangelista to place Reality Kitchen’s Pinocchio-inspired food cart at the LTD bus station in downtown Eugene. Continue reading 

College courses bring enrichment to low-income and unhoused students

Julie and Bill Ferrari make learning accessible

Julie and Bill Ferrari make learning accessible

On a bright weekday morning, 12 students fill out a downtown Eugene classroom as an excited buzz of conversation fills the space, and University of Oregon psychology professor Holly Arrow leads the class in a discussion about facts, opinion and confusion between the two. It could be any small, college-level course — except for the fact that it’s free, and there’s food afterward. Continue reading