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Smarter Balanced state testing results show struggling schools
Last year's scores come in lower than the year before

COOS COUNTY — Local school districts saw a slight decrease in overall scores compared to the year before. In the new scores, most didn't exceed or come close to 50 percent proficiency, according to  results from Oregon's Smarter Balanced assessments for the 2016-2017 school year.

“We have an important opportunity, through the Oregon Plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, to focus on providing a culturally relevant, well-rounded education for every student,” State Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Salam Noor said in a press release from the Oregon Department of Education.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is standardized state testing that helps create common core state standards. It tests third through eighth grade levels and high school on math, science, and the English Language Arts.

“We are confident that as we work with school and district leaders to implement the Oregon Plan, we will see more students attending school regularly, more students graduating and more scoring in the proficient category on these assessments,” Noor said.

Across Oregon, SBAC scores showed fewer students being proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and math.

In Coos County, the districts that scored highest in ELA were Port Orford-Langois at 55.7 percent proficiency, Bandon School District at 55.6 percent, North Bend at 52.3 percent, and Coquille at 51.5 percent.

The districts that scored the lowest in the county in ELA was Powers School District at 31.4 percent, Reedsport at 34.3 percent, Myrtle Point at 36.3 percent, and Coos Bay Schools at 39.3 percent.

SBAC testing for math in Coos County showed Port Orford-Langois Schools doing the best at 40.6 percent proficiency, Coquille at 38.3 percent, Bandon at 35.2 percent, and North Bend at 34.8 percent.

Districts that did the worse locally in SBAC math testing was Reedsport School District at 19.4 percent, Myrtle Point at 19.9 percent, Powers at 27.5 percent, and Coos Bay Schools at 31.9 percent.

SBAC also tested students in science, with the Bandon School District bringing in the highest score locally at 81.9 percent, followed by Port Orford-Langois Schools at 67.4 percent, Reedsport Schools at 55.3 percent, and North Bend School at 54 percent.

The districts that scored the lowest in science was the Powers School District at 41.7 percent, Coquille at 49.4 percent, Coos Bay at 52.1 percent, and Myrtle Point at 52.2 percent.

"The state in general saw a dip in scores across the state," said Coos Bay School District Superintendent Bryan Trendell. "Our district is mirroring the state in that for a myriad of reasons."

Trendell explained that the test scores are impacted by the opt out option for students. Due to this, the district only saw 80 percent participation.

Not only that, but the district adopted a new math curriculum last year.

"Anytime you implement a new curriculum, you see a dip in state assessment scores," he said. "Remember, this is raw data. We are evaluating it to see if it matches what we have and see if we need to make corrections at the state level. Smarter Balance is a one-shot of time, one day in the life of a kid and we want to look at a year in the life of a kid where we can see gains and if they are growing. That's the focus of our district, more so than to teach to that one test."

North Bend School District's director of curriculum, Tiffany Rush, pointed out that in English Language Arts and math, the district remained fairly stable.

"The Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) and our four local buildings make up our district report card data," she wrote in a statement to The World. "When reviewing the ‘Academic Growth’ information for all four buildings we outperformed state and/or ‘Like Schools’. Our high school ELA scores continue to be a strength within the district."

In the press release, Noor also highlighted the state’s investments in programs designed to support student achievement. This included ongoing implementation of the American Indian/Alaska Native State Plan, the English Learner Outcome Improvement Plan, the African American/Black Student Success State Plan and new investments to improve student attendance.

“Additionally, Oregon is taking strides to increase culturally responsive programs and practices, including new efforts to expand ethnic studies programs and tribal curriculum,” the release stated. “The state is also engaged in broader efforts to improve teacher quality and the effectiveness of school principals.”

Noor pointed out that SBAC is one of the “few reliable instruments we have to look at overall student performance,” he said. “I look forward to working with school districts to ensure we boost student participation in subsequent years.”

Smithsonian Institution donates art for Hispanic History Month
Free movie being held at the Egyptian Theater on September 30

COOS COUNTY – Cities across the country have begun celebrating Hispanic History Month, which lasts from Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

Helping locals celebrate is the Smithsonian Institution. The Coos Hispanic Leadership Committee revived temporary art donations from the Smithsonian to put on display, featuring a series titled “Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964.”

The posters provide photographs and information about the Bracero Program, which was the largest guest worker program in U.S. history. Between 1942 and 1964, many workers were sprayed with DDT by Department of Agriculture personnel.

“There will be an exhibit in the Egyptian Theater lobby on September 30,” said committee co-chair Maribel Guzzardi. “The posters are very impactful.”

The panels will be on display during the 3rd Annual Free Movie at the Egyptian Theater, hosted by the Coos Hispanic Leadership Committee.

This year's movie is “El Barrendero,” written by comedian Cantinflas, which will be shown in Spanish with English subtitles on September 30 at 2 p.m.

“The committee chose this movie because Cantinflas is renowned in Latin America and Mexico for being a very funny person,” Guzzardi said.

The Coos Hispanic Leadership Committee has worked hard to support the local Hispanic community, which right now mostly includes the Hispanic masses at St. Monica’s Catholic Church and the working community at the Charleston fish plants.

“We have the goal to create a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, like what Salem and Portland have,” Guzzardi said. “This is on our wish list. It is a very important project, but we're not ready to take it on just yet. Once we do, it would include businesses from the Reedsport and Roseburg area as well.”

In May last year, the committee hosted the Mexican consulate. In a thank you letter to the committee, Consul Claudia Fabiola Cabrera Vazquez said that the visit served 245 co-nationals who benefited from the consul's documentation services, where 236 documents were issued and 100 people received personal legal assistance.

“That's a lot of people who came to that from our county and other surrounding towns who needed to renew their ID, which is issued by the Mexican consulate and can be used for various things,” Guzzardi said. “Any Mexican national can have one.”

Guzzardi added that the consulate's visit is one that will happen again.

As for Hispanic History Month, Guzzardi hopes to work with the committee to do more than the annual movie but hold events similar to ones done in Salem, such as dance classes.

“We want to raise funds to bring down musicians or dancers to make it more interesting,” she said. “Most importantly, I want people to know that the committee's main goal is to unite people in our community. Hopefully this event later in the month will help do that.”

A Coos County Sheriff's deputy was injured over the weekend
Suspect backed stolen vehicle into patrol car during stop

COOS COUNTY — A sheriff's deputy sustained injuries during an arrest over the weekend.

On Sept. 16, a deputy from the Coos County Sheriff's Office was flagged down in the Boat Basin area of Charleston by employees with the Charleston Sanitary District. The unnamed deputy was informed that a vehicle belonging to the district had just been stolen, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Department on Monday.

“The deputy saw the reported stolen vehicle, a box style van, just ahead of him,” the release stated.

The van led him on a slow speed pursuit to the end of Shore Edge Road, behind Huckleberry Hill Trailer Park.

“The deputy was beginning the apprehension process when the box van reversed and rammed into the front of the patrol vehicle,” the release read. “The deputy sustained minor injuries from this collision.”

The suspect fled on foot.

The deputy was taken by ambulance to Bay Area Hospital, where he was treated and released.

In the meantime, police units responded to the call for assistance from Myrtle Point to a K-9 and his handler from Coos Bay Police.

“After searching, police were notified by a nearby resident that a firearm had been stolen from a bedroom,” the release said. “The resident said someone had taken a revolver from a bedside table and left a gallon of milk in an odd place.”

Law enforcement searched the residence and found Daniel D. Farnum, 30, hiding in a back room. Farnum refused to cooperate and K-9 DAK bit him during the apprehension process.

“After being taken into custody, Farnum was found to be in possession of the stolen firearm on his person, as well as some money, credit cards and personal documents that had been in the home,” the release read.

Farnum was arrested and charged with Burglary 1, Theft 1, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and two counts of Identity Theft prior to being lodged at the Coos County Jail.

Farnum is now being held on a $390,000 bail.

Officers involved in the search came from the Coos Bay Police Department, Myrtle Point Police, Bandon Police and Oregon State Police.

“As this is was an officer involved crash where criminal charges may be filed against Mr. Farnum, the Coos County Crash Team was activated,” the release stated. “This multi agency team is used for coordination of crash investigations where certain aspects are in play. The Oregon State Police, in conjunction with the District Attorney, is in charge of this investigation regarding the pursuit and collision.”

Coos County deputies are the investigating officers on the burglary and apprehension of Mr. Farnum at the Huckleberry Hill trailer park, as well as the original burglary of the Charleston Sanitary District office and the theft of their vehicle.

Cascade-Siskiyou to diminish under Interior Secretary's recommendations

MEDFORD — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that the Trump administration reduce the boundaries of the 113,000-acre Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Zinke's recommendations were revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House and first reported on by the Washington Post.

The 19-page document comes after a four-month review of more than a dozen monuments ordered by President Donald Trump in April, spurred by complaints over what he called “a massive federal land grab” by former presidents.

The Interior secretary's plan also seeks to downsize Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as well as Nevada’s Gold Butte.

According to the memo, the Cascade-Siskiyou monument includes 16,591 acres of O&C timber lands. The monument designation locks up those lands to timber harvesting, thus reducing the Bureau of Land Management’s timber sales by four to six million board feet a year, the memo states. O&C lands are federal lands previously owned by the Oregon and California Railroads that are currently managed by the BLM. 

Zinke also noted that the 1937 O&C Act requires those lands to be set aside for permanent forest production.

“It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects,” the memo states.

In his recommendation for the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, Zinke said the boundary should be revised to allow for logging. However no amounts are specified.  

“The boundary should be revised through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the President’s discretion granted by the Act, in order to reduce impacts on private land and remove O&C lands to allow sustained-yield timber production under BLM’s governing Resource Management Plans, until revised regional management plan achieves sustainable yield,” Zinke wrote.

Tim Freeman, president of the Association of O&C counties, hadn’t seen the leaked memo and was hesitant to comment on it.

“Until we see actual stuff from the Department of the Interior we’re going to stick with what’s factual and not get into what’s leaked.” Freeman said.

He said the O&C counties still contend that theirs is a legal argument based on a 1940 decision by a former U.S. solicitor general that said the president could not convert O&C lands to a national monument. The decision was a response to a proposal by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to add some O&C lands to the Oregon Caves National Monument.

The Douglas County commissioner said despite those who say the decision is dated, the 77-year-old opinion had the intent of the 1937 Act in mind.

“The only way it could be better if it was from the same year the O&C act happened, because it was the same lawyer who worked on the O&C act, he knew the legislative intent,” Freeman said.

The Association of O&C counties sued the administration after the 48,000-acre expansion in January, but agreed to a stay while the monument was under review. Freeman said the association will be reviewing whether or not to go forward with the lawsuit at the end of the month. 

The monument expansion has economic impacts on all 18 O&C counties, because regardless of where the trees are cut, the money generated is given out based on the percentage of O&C land that a county has.

Steve Pedery, the conservation director at Oregon Wild, said logging areas like the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument isn’t going to be the shot in the arm that fixes rural economies in O&C counties.

“To view public lands as the piggy bank that can be cracked to solve that problem,” Pedery said, “It’s just a sad commentary on where things are.”

He said the O&C lands present an interesting conundrum, but there have been subsequent laws passed since the 1940 decision, like the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

“You can’t pick and choose what laws you want to follow when it comes to public lands management,” Pedery said, “The idea that we’re going to fund county government through essentially strip-mining public lands sounds absurd to people who moved to Oregon because of our natural amenities.”

In July, O&C County Commissioners met with the Interior Secretary, along with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden. 

“Southern Oregonians deeply value their public lands while maintaining healthy support for private property rights and the need to properly fund our local schools. It's clear the Secretary heard these concerns as reflected in his recommendation to the President," Walden said in a prepared statement.

In a joint news release, Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden noted that the President and Interior Secretary have refused requests to make the recommendations public.

“The fate of this Oregon treasure should not be another state secret on top of everything else this administration has tried to keep in the dark. These public lands belong to all Oregonians, and they should remain open to everyone to enjoy and use, not be managed by a memo thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C.,” Wyden said in a prepared statement.

The release also wrote that more than 242,000 commenters supported the monument expansion during the 2017 comment period.

“Using an unprecedented and legally dubious strategy, President Trump is threatening one of the most biodiverse places in America and ignoring the extensive public process that informed the expansion of the monument,” Merkley said in a prepared statement.

The potential reduction has conservation groups as well as politicians threatening litigation.

“I call on Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to consider all legal options necessary to defend our Oregon values, and to be ready to challenge any overreach of executive power,” Gov. Kate Brown said in an Aug 24 prepared statement.

Monument boundaries have been reduced or redrawn by presidents more than a dozen times, however no president has tried to eliminate a monument, according the National Parks Service.