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Education
Local student enrollment on the rise for some districts
Coquille Schools show largest enrollment increase

COOS COUNTY — School enrollment numbers are up for this year, but down for some.

The Coquille School District has seen the largest enrollment jump. For the 2017/18 school year, there are 1,086 currently enrolled in the district, whereas last year there were 969. In 2015/16, there were 875 students enrolled.

“We really aren't sure why our numbers have taken off the way they have,” said Coquille Superintendent Tim Sweeney in a previous interview. “We are very humbled and appreciative that folks have decided to come to the Coquille School District and we continue to strive to make them happy they have chosen us. But I don't think there is a single answer as to why this is happening.”

The North Bend School District has also seen an increase in school enrollment numbers. This year, there were 2,262 students enrolled in the district. In 2016/17, there were 2,202 students.

“The board is interested in taking a look at the overall performance and those enrollment numbers are part of the performance indicator,” said district communications specialist, Brad Bixler. “We’re in the process of looking at that and developing strategies to see some improvement. Certain grade levels are stronger than others. We know that, but we have to understand why.”

One of the stronger grade levels, as far as student enrollment goes, Hillcrest Elementary has 108 5th Graders while North Bay Elementary has 87 5th Graders.

The Coos Bay School District has seen student growth at the elementary level for the past few years, but that has now changed. This year’s student enrollment at the elementary level have decreased.

“It’s spread out,” said district Superintendent Bryan Trendell. “Some of our students, particularly our kindergarten numbers, are roughly what we thought they would be but are down a little bit, which could be attributed to the Lighthouse Charter School. Lighthouse is easier for some folks to get to now that it’s in our district.”

This year’s enrollment number is 3,066, but even that is lower than the district expected.

“We budgeted for close to 3,080,” Trendell said. “The numbers are actually coming in as we thought they would.”

He explained that about 20 percent of the student population is transient, or that they come and go, so it can be difficult for the district to pinpoint what they will end up with on a year-to-year basis.

“Enrollment in rural Oregon in general is a moving target,” Trendell said. “When you have 20 percent of your population coming and going, it’s hard to pinpoint and plan for that when you’re looking at a budget year and trying to budget for the following year. We did a pretty good job this last year predicting where our enrollment was going to fall. I feel good about that.”


Coquille School Board Members cut the ribbon for the opening of the new Lincoln Child Development Center at Lincoln Elementary School Wednesday in Coquille. The center was designed for preschool schildren from ages 30 months up to kindergarten. 


Coquille School District Superintendent Tim Sweeney welcomes the public to the new facility which cost approximately $700,000 to design and build the center which will provide preschool and pre-kindergarten care in a nurturing environment. The facility took approximately 18 months to design and build.


House GOP tax overhaul keeps retirement rules
House GOP tax overhaul keeps retirement rules

WASHINGTON — House Republicans would preserve the popular retirement account for middle-class Americans while limiting a cherished deduction for homeowners in a sweeping tax cut plan unveiled Thursday that would add $1.5 trillion to the nation's debt.

GOP leaders briefed rank-and-file lawmakers on the proposal Thursday morning ahead of a formal rollout and a show of unity event at the White House with President Donald Trump. A major revamp of the tax code, the first in three decades, is a top legislative and political priority of Republicans.

Details were contained in a summary obtained by The Associated Press.

The proposal would leave intact the existing rules on 401(k) retirement accounts and the ability of Americans to contribute up to $18,000 into the accounts tax-free. But the plan limits the widely used deduction for mortgage interest for new home loans of $500,000 or less, a sharp reduction from the current $1 million cap.

The plan also limits the deductibility of local property taxes to $10,000 while eliminating the deduction for state income taxes, which generated significant opposition from Republicans in high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey.

"I view the elimination of the deduction as a geographic redistribution of wealth, picking winners and losers," said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who represents eastern Long Island. "I don't want my home state to be a loser, and that really shouldn't come as any surprise."

The child tax credit would be increased from $1,000 to $1,600, though the $4,050 per child exemption would be repealed.

The legislation is a longstanding goal for Capitol Hill Republicans who see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to clean up an inefficient, loophole-cluttered tax code. But there is lingering opposition from northeastern Republicans fearful of losing a cherished deduction for state and local taxes and anxiety among other rank-and-file lawmakers over emerging details.

Influential conservative Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., dismissed proposed retirement changes as a "non-starter," adding "that's what most of middle-income America uses as their nest egg."

The plan shrinks the number of tax brackets from seven to three or four, with respective tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and a category still to be determined. The tax system would be simplified, and most people would be able to file their returns on a postcard-sized form.

The plan sets a 25 percent tax rate starting at $90,000 for married couples, with a 35 percent rate beginning to bite at $260,000 — which means many upper-income families whose top rate is 33 percent would face higher taxes. Individuals making $500,000 and couples earning $1 million would face the current Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent.

The plan calls for nearly doubling the standard deduction used by most average Americans to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families, and increasing the per-child tax credit. On net, it could mean tax increases for many upper middle-income families.

The plan slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, a demand of Trump. It also repeals the inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, a big break for the wealthy.

Republicans and Trump argue that sharply cutting tax rates for businesses improves U.S. economic competitiveness, but the possibility of letting the lower corporate rates expire is rankling some longtime advocates who say the uncertainty could limit its boost to the economy.

The ambitious timetable calls for passing the complex measure in the House by Thanksgiving.

"Failure is not an option," said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

The emerging plan would retain the Clinton-era 39.6 percent income tax rate for the wealthiest earners. But for that highest bracket, the tax writers were considering raising the minimum level of income to $1 million for couples or families from the current $470,000 — a change that would reduce tax revenue.

Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said he was worried about eligibility limits that could prevent some businesses from taking advantage of a lower 25 percent tax rate.

"How as a Republican can we pick winners and losers that way? I mean it makes absolutely, certifiably no sense," Meadows said.

Trump set an aggressive timetable for the legislation and predicted a grand signing ceremony before Christmas at "the biggest tax event in the history of our country."

Democrats have repeatedly complained the plan was too favorable to business and the wealthy, and contradicted Trump's rhetoric of bringing tax relief and economic benefit to the stressed middle class.

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Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.


Local
ODFW amps up monitoring of fatal deer/elk disease

COOS COUNTY — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is on the lookout for an untreatable, fatal disease that impacts elk and deer herds.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) damages the brain of infected animals through a protein prion that causes a loss of body control.

CWD hasn’t been detected in Oregon, but the wildlife agency wants to be proactive.

Michelle Dennehy, spokewoman for ODFW, said early detection is important to preventing the spread of the disease.

“The key thing is that once an animal is actually showing the symptoms they may have been affected for years,” Dennehy said.

The disease is always fatal.

“Once it gets into the free-ranging population you pretty much can’t stop it from spreading,” Dennehy said.

Dennehy said if the disease were detected in Oregon it could impact hunters and wildlife management.

ODFW is asking hunters to voluntarily call their local ODFW office and have a sample taken of any elk or deer kills.

Stuart Love with ODFW’s Charleston field office said hunters should give the office a call at 541-888-5515, before they plan to stop by.

The test for CWD involves taking samples of the animal’s lymph nodes or brain stem, which are sent off for testing.

Love said if the animal tests positive for CWD, which is unlikely, the hunter will be notified.

CWD hasn’t been known to jump into humans and Love said he’s not telling people to wait to eat their animal.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises hunters not to eat meat from animals infected with CWD.

CWD is concentrated in brain matter and spinal cord tissue. Those hunting in a state with confirmed cases of CWD are prohibited from bringing brain matter or spinal cord tissue back to Oregon.

“If CWD came into the state as a result of somebody bringing the head of animal in from hunting in another state like Colorado, the potential for them releasing the disease is wherever they live,” Love said.

ODFW is also testing road-killed deer and elk, because animals infected with CWD are more likely to be disoriented.

If you see or harvest a sick deer or elk, report it to the ODFW Wildlife Health Lab number at 866-968-2600 or by email to Wildlife.Health@state.or.us.

Documented cases of CWD have occurred in Alberta, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Saskatchewan.