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  • Students can get a good education in project area schools. However, despite the best efforts of the school districts, the local educational system is not working well for a number of segments of the community.

  • The state of educational infrastructure in the project area is a deterrent to effective education.

  • In recent years, student numbers have been declining in the project area.

  • The distance and time required for students from outlying areas to be bussed to centralized schools is leading to the creation of “home-schooling cooperatives.”

  • Introduction

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    North Bend High School

    One of the most important decisions that residents of the project area make is where to live. Multiple factors usually enter into this decision, but if the family has children—or expects to in the near future— what school their kids will attend often outweighs any other single criteria. Schools also play an important role in civic engagement within the community: teachers and staff are often recruited into the community; parents become involved in their children’s sports and other activities; and parents often join Parent 6-2 Schools and Education Teacher Associations (PTAs), advisory groups, or run for the school board. Schools often host facilities such as playing fields, theatres, libraries, and meeting rooms that are open to the public outside of school hours. Thus, the condition of the educational system in the community reflects, and is reflected by, the public’s support and involvement.

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    Figure 1. Districts and schools (open and closed) in the project area.

    This chapter will examine the state of the schools in the project area (Figure 1). We will begin by describing the composition of schools in the area, including public, charter, and private schools. Because public schools are financed based on the number of students, changes in attendance over time (as well as local school levies) significantly affect their operations.

    One of the outcomes of the No Child Left Behind law was testing students and assessing school performance; Oregon provides annual district and school report cards that allow for comparison among districts and schools within the project area, as well as comparisons with districts and schools state- wide that have similar demographics. Finally, there has been a history of school district consolidations—and school closures—
    within the project area that have resulted in impacts to both students and local communities.



    Example of Bootstrap 3 Accordion

    The project area provides an array of school choices to residents: standard public schools that enroll the vast majority of students;public charter schools that offer alternative approaches to education; and private schools
    (primarily religious) whose instruction reflects their values (Table 1). These options are available for the entire range of formal schooling, from kindergarten through high school. Within these choices, about 83% of children attend public schools, 13% attend chater schools, and 4% are enrolled at private schools (these percentages are inexact because they include the entire student population for the Bandon and North Bend schools; some of whose students reside outside of the project area). In addition, approximately 250 school-aged children in the project area are
    home-schooled (2014-2015).

    Public Schools

    There are three public school districts that serve students within the project area. Bandon School District #54 serves students living at the extreme southern end of the project area in neighborhoods along Seven Devils Road and surrounding the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Figure 1). Coos Bay School District #9 serves students in the center of the project area, covering the communities of Allegany, Charleston, Cooston, Empire, Eastside, Greenacres, and Sumner as well as those students within the Coos Bay city limits. The North Bend School District serves the city of North Bend, the East and North Bay neighborhoods, Glasgow, and Hauser within the project area. The Coos Bay School District covers the greatest percentage of the project area (76%), followed by North Bend (19%), and finally Bandon (5%). Similarly, in the 2012-2013 school year, Coos Bay had the highest
    enrollment (2,786 in its standard schools, with another 156 in two charter schools); North Bend enrolled 1,600 students in its standard schools, and another 648 students in two charter schools; while Bandon had 733 students in its three schools.

    There are differences among the three districts in how they configure their classes (Table 1), and these configurations are constantly changing as the districts grapple with changing enrollment numbers in various classes and outdated infrastructure. Bandon follows the traditional model of K- 4 grades in its elementary school, grades 5 – 8 in Harbor Lights Middle School, and grades 9 – 12 in the high school. North Bend modifies this traditional approach with its elementary schools covering K-4 in one school (Hillcrest) and K-5 in the other (North Bay), its middle school covering grades 5-8, and its high school grades 9 – 12. In contrast, Coos Bay has its two elementary schools cover K-3, its two intermediate schools cover grades 4 – 7, and the high school covers grades 8 – 12.

    The Coos Bay school attendance boundaries (Figure 1) differ between their elementary and intermediate schools. Elementary grade students living to the west of Pony Creek attend Madison Elementary while those living to the east and south attend Blossom Gulch. This boundary changes for the middle/intermediate school attendance zones: those living in the neighborhoods west of Koos Boulevard and 10th Street, extending south to Juniper Avenue, then southeast to Ocean Boulevard and then west to Pony Creek attend Sunset Middle School, while those to the east and south of this line attend Millicoma Intermediate School. Students from the entire district attend Marshfield High School.

    Attendance zones in the North Bend School District are more straightforward. Students attending the standard curriculum schools who
    live north or east of the McCullough Bridge attend North Bay Elementary; those living south attend Hillcrest Elementary. Students who attend the Lighthouse Charter School can live within Coos County or as far north as
    Reedsport; those living within the North Bend School District are provided transportation to the school. The remaining grades at North Bend all attend schools within a larger complex in the city of North Bend that includes a
    middle school, high school, and a technology center that supports the Oregon Coast Technology Charter School.

    Charter Schools

    The Oregon Public Charter School Act (Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 338), passed in 1999, allows a sponsoring group such as parents, teachers and/or community members to form a semi-autonomous school under the umbrella of a public school district. The school district must approve the “charter” for the school under the provisions of ORS Ch. 338, or their decision can be appealed to the State Board of Education for certification.
    Charter schools are given more freedom in their operations (and at least initially more funding) than comparable standard public schools. As a result, a number of smaller school districts in the region (Reedsport, Elkton, Triangle Lake) have completely converted to charter schools. Other districts, such as Coos Bay and North Bend, have either allowed or opened charter schools to provide alternative educational opportunities.

    Depending upon whether the charter school is sponsored by the district or the State Board of Education (if a district refuses), charter schools are provided with, respectively, either 80% or 90% of state per student funding for kindergarten through 8 grades, and 90 % or 95% of the per-student funding received for high school students (ORS 388.155). Districts may lose funding if independent schools are chartered; however, by opening their own
    charter schools they may keep more students enrolled, and thus retain more state support, while widening available educational opportunities.

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    Table 1. School characteristics in the project area

    The initial charter school in the project area (the Lighthouse School) was organized in 2002 by parents who were dissatisfied with the traditional educational model in the local public schools. The school enrolls about 200
    students from kindergarten through the 8th grade. Lighthouse curriculum is inspired by the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner (1907) in his Waldorf Schools. The Waldorf approach for pre-adolescent students (K-8) is to develop their artistic and social capacities using both creative and analytical understanding.

    The second charter school in the North Bend School District is the Oregon
    Coast Technology School (ORCO Tech), created in 2003 as a “school within a school” located on the grounds of North Bend Middle and High Schools. The focus for the school is to use information technology as an organizing
    principle, developing students’ interdependent knowledge in three areas: skills, concepts, and capabilities. ORCO Tech enrolls about 450 students from with those in the 6th through 8th grades attending classes in the North Bend Middle School, 9th and 10th graders in classrooms at the North Bend High School, and 11th and 12th graders in separate Technology Center on the campus.

    The Coos Bay School District also sponsors two charter schools, housed in the Harding Learning Center on the campus of Marshfield High School. Destinations Academy is designed for students to work at their own pace in a community service approach that is project-based and appropriate for their academic level. Approximately 90 students are enrolled in grades 9 – 12, with four teachers and an educational assistant. The Resource Link Charter School provides services to K-12 grades, including home-schooled students. About 65 students were enrolled in its programs in 2013. Resource Link’s educational strategy is that effective communication, academic
    relevance, and student voice and choice are fundamental to a student’s success. The curriculum focuses on project based, individual learning. Students are required to meet with a teacher only one hour per week, although there are three classrooms with computers, and four teachers who are available to work with students.

    Private Schools

    Three out of the four private schools in the project area are religion-based, with the fourth focusing on alternative education (Table 1). Information is more difficult to obtain on these schools because they are not required to report to the Oregon Department of Education; most information in this section was derived from the schools’ websites and
    independent web pages. Alternative Youth Activities (AYA) was founded in 1979 to serve students on the Oregon south coast from Florence to Brookings who are disconnected from their public schools. The school focuses on offering relationship-based learning experiences by developing connections, capability, and confidence with a particular emphasis in credit recovery so that students can return to their public school. About 30 students attend
    AYA, and are supported by 15 full- and part-time staff members.

    The three religion-based, private schools are Christ Lutheran, Gold Coast Seventh-Day Adventist, and Kingsview Christian (Table 1). Christ Lutheran School serves about 70 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school focuses on the spiritual welfare of the child, assisting parents in educating their children and providing an opportunity for Christian education, witness, and evangelism. Gold Coast Seventh-Day Adventist School serves a small number of students, about 14, in grades 2 – 7 with one teacher. The focus of the school is to develop the spiritual, mental, and physical powers of each student; preparing them for the joy of service in this life and for the higher joy of service in the life to come. Kingsview Christian School, established by the Bay Area Church of the Nazarene in 1979, serves about 140 students from pre-kindergarten through the 8th grade
    with eight teachers.

    The decline of the natural resource based economy, coinciding with demographic trends and cycles, resulted in an overall decrease in the number of students in the project area. The reduction in family wage jobs began in the 1980s led to significant out-migration (see Chapter 3: Population and Demographics), and the Great Recession of 2008 has continued
    the process (Figure 2). Enrollment in recent decades topped during the 1992-93 school year, with a high of 4,517 students in the Coos Bay district and 3,140 in North Bend. Enrollment during the 2013-14 school year dropped to 3,068 in the Coos Bay School District (i.e., Coos Bay schools enrolled almost 50% more students at their peak); in the North Bend School District there are 2,423 students enrolled (not including their Virtual Figure 3. Demographic makeup of the Coos Bay (left) and North Bend (right) students.
    Academy), compared to about 30% more at their peak.

    While student numbers have dropped over the last two decades, student diversity has increased (Figure 3). While the vast majority of students are white in both school districts (72% in Coos Bay and 76% in North Bend),
    there are significant numbers of Native American (5% in both districts) and Hispanic/Latino students (14% in Coos Bay and 7% in North Bend); multiracial students comprise 7% and 9%, respectively, of the student bodies in Coos Bay and North Bend. The Native American and Hispanic/Latino students are aggregated into a category known as Underserved Races/Ethnicities in reporting required by the No Child Left Behind Act, as will be discussed below.

    There are differences in student demographics between the North Bend and Coos Bay School Districts, as well as among the student populations in various schools (Table 2). While both Districts have substantial numbers
    of economically disadvantaged students (and thus the Title I designations), in general there are between 5% and 10% more disadvantaged students in the Coos Bay schools compared to North Bend, although the difference becomes slight between the two high schools. The attendance boundaries described previously affect student demographics; and the availability of North Bend’s charter schools further exacerbates demographic differences within the North Bend School District. Similarly, Coos Bay enrolls more disabled students in comparison to North Bend, but these differences are not substantial except in the elementary grades where Coos Bay enrolls about a third more. Finally, English learners as a group are not a significant proportion of either district’s students.
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    Coos Bay

    Because of fixed attendance zones, student demographics largely reflect those of the neighborhoods and communities where they reside (see Chapter 3: Population and Demographics, and Appendix 1). For Coos Bay elementary schools, there are almost 25% more disadvantaged students attending Madison Elementary (80%) compared to Blossom Gulch (64%); while there are relatively similar percentages of disabled students and under-served races and ethnicities, there are substantially more English learners at Madison compared to Blossom Gulch (the less than 5% at Blossom Gulch can go down to almost zero, in comparison with the 7% at Madison). Madison has a slightly higher percentage of minority students (20%) compared to Blossom Gulch (18%), but this gap increases to a 25% difference (22% versus 17%, respectively) at the middle school level at Sunset and Millicoma.

    Economic disparities continue at the middle school level as well: Sunset Middle School has almost a third more economically disadvantaged students compared to Millicoma Intermediate School. Coos Bay’s Destinations Charter School serves almost 25% more economically disadvantaged students compared to Marshfield High School, as well as over one- third minority students.

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    Figure 2. Patterns of schoolenrollmentfrom 1987 – present.

    North Bend

    Demographic disparities among schools in North Bend are even greater than Coos Bay (Appendix 1). Students attending the standard curriculum elementary schools are largely similar, although Hillcrest Elementary (16%)
    has almost twice as many underserved races/ethnicities as does North Bay (8%).

    The more substantial differences are between the demographics of the students attending the two charter schools compared to those in the standard curriculum schools. At the elementary level, Lighthouse Charter has only about half the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, half the proportion of disabled students and underserved races/ethnicities, and no English learners compared to the two standard elementary schools. The pattern of demographic disparities continues in the upper grades, as the Oregon Coast Technology School enrolls 39% economically disadvantaged students, compared to 71% for the North Bend Middle School (almost twice as many), and compared to 49% at North Bend High School. As a proportion of
    total enrollment, ORCO Tech has fewer than a third of disabled students, less underserved races/ethnicities, and no English learners as compared to the North Bend Middle and High Schools.

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    Figure 3. Demographic makeup of the Coos Bay (left) and North Bend (right) students

    The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) significantly amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.). It increased accountability for educational quality by emphasizing
    testing to evaluate whether all students are meeting performance goals in reading, math, writing, and science (Learning First Alliance.2002). Test (and metrics) results reported by various student demographics are compiled
    by the Oregon Department of Education and have been made publicly available since 2000 (by S.B. 1329) as School and District Report Cards. Data from these report cards are the primary source of information for this section;
    however, comparable testing/performance data is not available for the private schools, and we will provide more detailed information for the Coos Bay and North Bend School Districts (Appendix 1) because they cover the vast majority of the project area.

    School Performance
    The School and District Report Cards provide a summary performance level based on how a school ranks statewide, as well as compared to those schools with similar demographics. Five performance levels are designated, with a level being determined by an aggregate of five measures: (1) subject achievement rate; (2) subject achievement growth rate; (3) subgroup achievement growth rate; (4) graduation rate; and (5) subgroup graduation
    rate. These performance measures often incorporate multiple categories (such as math and reading assessment scores). Each performance measure is assigned a level based on a scale of 5; points are accumulated in each performance measure by a process of “earning” points, the calculation of which is outlined in ODE 2013b, and are generally described in Appendix 2. Performance measures often have a threshold required to attain a specific level, either in points or as a percentage of available points.

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    Table 3. School performance in the project area

    A school’s or district’s aggregate Performance Level is determined by the aggregate points it receives in the five measures, and then where it ranks compared to similar level schools in the State of Oregon. In order to control for the effects of socio-economic factors, an additional measure evaluates a school’s performance compared to the closest 20 other schools in Oregon having similar demographics.

    Table 3 shows the performance ratings of schools in the project area for the last school year (2012-13) and the one previous to that (2011-12). About 55% percent of schools statewide have met state standards for educational attainment (and graduation, if a high school. Note that it is possible that a school stayed the same in its performance between the two reported years, while others in the state were improving (or deteriorating) at a comparatively higher (or lower) rate.

    Only in the North Bend School District do all the elementary schools meet overall state targets for educational attainment and student growth. Neither Ocean Crest in Bandon, nor Madison or Blossom Gulch in Coos Bay, met state targets in 2012-13 (although Madison did in 2011-12). Middle or
    intermediate schools range in quality among districts and between schools. Harbor Lights Middle School in Bandon is among the top 5% of middle schools statewide in terms of its educational quality, and is designated a Model School under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary School Act because it achieves this quality while having a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. In Coos Bay, Millicoma Intermediate had a good
    score in 2012-13, rising from not meeting state targets in 2011-12, while Sunset Middle School did not meet targets in 2012-13 (data was not available for 2011-12).

    The standard curriculum North Bend Middle School ranked in the worst 15% statewide for both 2012-13 and 2011-12, while the two charter schools
    within the North Bend School District both met state targets and were in the top 55% of schools statewide. Bandon High School met state targets in 2012-2013 after having failed them in 2011-12; North Bend High School did not meet state targets in either 2012-13 or 2011-12 (but was not in the worst 15%), while ORCO Tech did meet state targets; and Marshfield High School descended from not meeting state targets to being in the lowest 15% of high schools statewide from 2011-2012 to 2012-13.

    It could be argued that school performance in the project area is adversely affected by the overall economic climate and the preponderance of economically disadvantaged students that they serve (Appendix 1). However, the right- most column in Table 2 shows that this is not necessarily the case. Each school’s performance was compared with 20 others in the state that had the closest demographic makeup, irrespective of whether they were
    larger or smaller, urban or rural. There is no consistent pattern among the schools, or among the districts, in the project area. Not surprisingly, Bandon’s Harbor Lights Middle School was above average, but its elementary
    school was below average and its high school about average. Coos Bay has more schools rated below average in comparison to similar ones statewide, but Millicoma Intermediate is above average, as is its Resource Link Charter School. One might have thought that North Bend’s charter schools would have outperformed similar schools statewide, which is the case with the Oregon Coast Technology School but not with the Lighthouse School.
    Neither of the standard curriculum high schools in Coos Bay and North Bend compared well with comparable schools statewide.

    Academic Achievement
    As outlined in Appendix 2, attainment of standards—as well as student growth from one year to the next— contribute to a school’s performance rating. For the 2012-13 Report Cards, the Oregon Department of Education
    emphasized student growth in its weighting (ODE 2013a). Both attainment and growth are based on the results of assessment tests, called the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS). Reading assessment tests are given in grades 3 – 8, and 11; math assessment tests are given in grades 3 – 8, and 11; science assessment tests are given in grades 5, 8, and 11; and writing assessments are given in grade 11 (writing was also assessed in grades 4 and 7, but this was discontinued in 2011 due to budget shortages).

    Coos Bay and North Bend standards attainment and growth by school and subgroup will be discussed in detail based on data provided in Appendix 1.
    North Bend does a better job at teaching reading in the elementary schools, where about three-quarters of students meet state standards compared to less than two-thirds in the Coos Bay schools. Economically disadvantaged
    students have reading attainment rates that are largely comparable to those of non-economically disadvantaged students in elementary school in North Bend, but such reading rates are 12% less at Blossom Gulch in Coos Bay.

    Students with disabilities fared poorly in reading in elementary schools with an average of only about 50% meeting state standards, with the exception of Hillcrest; both Madison Elementary in Coos Bay, and North Bay in North Bend, did particularly poorly with disabled students’ reading.

    Lighthouse Charter exceeded all the standard curriculum schools in reading, with 86% overall meeting standards, with little drop off for the subgroups. A similar pattern exists for elementary school math attainment: North Bend elementary schools do better than Coos Bay, in some cases substantially, but all subgroups do worse, particularly students with disabilities. For math, the Lighthouse School students are less proficient compared to
    Hillcrest Elementary in North Bend, but about equivalent to North Bay. However, Lighthouse does much more poorly with the subgroup performance in math when compared to the standard curriculum schools.

    Once students enter middle/intermediate school, educational attainment switches between the standard curriculum schools in Coos Bay (which are better) compared to North Bend Middle School. About two-thirds of Coos Bay’s Millicoma Intermediate School students met reading standards (but only 58% at Sunset), while only slightly over half did at North Bend. The reading performance of economically disadvantaged students dropped off more rapidly at North Bend compared to the Coos Bay middle schools, although only one-third of disabled students met reading standards at any of the three standard curriculum middle schools. That was not the case with the North Bend charter schools, both of which include the middle school grades: overall reading attainment was above 80% at both schools, and stayed high for Economically Disadvantaged students; Lighthouse did well in reading for the other subgroups (ORCO Tech had only 21% of its disabled students meet
    reading standards).

    In math, Coos Bay middle schools did better than North Bend, although almost three-quarters of ORCO Tech students (with the exception of those disabled) met math standards compared to less than two thirds of Coos Bay middle school students.

    At the high school level, North Bend High School (80%) and ORCO Tech (81%) students are quite a bit more proficient in reading compared to Coos Bay (67%); however, in math Coos Bay (52%) bettered North Bend (42%), while at ORCO Tech. 73% of students met Grade 11 standards in math. Economically
    Disadvantaged students match fairly well with overall attainment in math, but the drop off is higher in reading.

    Less than 10% of Disabled students in high school standard curriculum meet state math standards, and less than a quarter meet state reading standards
    (and only 16% and 21%, respectively, at ORCO Tech). Underserved Races/Ethnicities largely hold up with overall school performance, and
    even exceed them at North Bend High School. Of particular interest is how well (or poorly) students are meeting state standards in science, when tests are given in the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades. Data is much more spotty compared to the reading and math assessment (Appendix 2): Sunset, Millicoma
    Intermediate and North Bend Middle School report scores; and all three high schools (Marshfield, North Bend, and ORCO Tech) report overall scores, but not for any subgroups.

    Attainment of state science standards is not high, even at ORCO Tech. Less than two-thirds of Sunset Middle students met standards while surprisingly on 46% met standards at Millicoma Intermediate, somewhat over half meeting them at North Bend Middle School level. Attainment rises with the Grade 11
    tests: 65% of Marshfield students, 71% of North Bend students, and 81% of ORCO Tech students meet state standards.

    Student Growth and Graduation Rates

    Academic growth is calculated by evaluating an individual student’s score on math and reading exams for the current and previous year, and then determining whether at that rate the student would be able to attain state
    standards within the next three years. For the 2012-13 school year, the Oregon Department of Education dramatically revised its School and District Report Cards to emphasize student growth in the determination of a school’s performance, weighing it as 50% of the score for elementary and middle schools, with an additional 25% weight for subgroup growth (ODE 2013a, see also Appendix 2).

    For high schools, student academic growth counts less (20%, with an additional 10% weight for subgroup growth), while graduation rates influence the majority of a school’s score (35% overall, with an additional 25% for subgroup graduation rates). Growth rates are not reported if too few students take exams two years in a row, which was the case at Blossom Gulch and Madison Elementary Schools in Coos Bay; in North Bend, no separate scores were reported for underserved races/ethnicities at North Bay and Lighthouse due to too few (less than 6) students taking the tests.
    Not surprisingly, patterns in academic growth closely reflect those in academic achievement in both school districts. Generally, Coos Bay lags North Bend by almost 10%, while Lighthouse exceeds the two North Bend elementary schools by another 10%. However, in no case is academic growth exceptionally good: only 46% of Sunset middle students are making adequate progress to meet state standards in three years, while 54% of both North Bend standard curriculum schools, and 66% of Lighthouse students are on track to meet state standards in reading.

    For elementary school math, academic growth is higher than reading growth at Hillcrest (65%), and slightly lower at North Bay (51%). Drop off in academic growth for the subgroups is less than for academic achievement, but disabled students are 10% – 15% less likely to be making adequate progress compared to the regular students in the elementary schools (with the exception of the Lighthouse Charter School where progress is equivalent or even better for disabled students).

    For the middle schools, Millicoma has the best record in the percentage of students on track to meet state standards in reading and math in three years. Even so, less than 60% of Millicoma students will meet standards in
    reading, and only slightly over half in math; for students in Sunset Middle School, only 46% will attain standards in reading and 40% in math. At North Bend Middle School, 46% of students are on track to meet standards in reading, and 43% in math; ORCO Tech does not much better in reading (49%) and only 59% of students will likely meet state standards in math over the next three years. There is some drop off in academic growth at Sunset Intermediate for disabled students in reading, while underserved Races/ethnicities do well in reading but comparatively poor in math. Very little drop off in academic growth is seen in the subgroups at Millicoma Middle or North Bend Middle schools, but disabled students at the Lighthouse Charter School are only about half as likely to be able to meet state standards as other students in the school.

    Academic growth at the high school level is more difficult to determine because students take the OAKS tests only in the 11th grade. North Bend does quite a bit better than Coos Bay for high school students: at North Bend High School, 55% of students are on track in reading and 58% are on track in math; at ORCO Tech, only 49% are on track for reading, but 59% are on track for math; while at Marshfield, only 45% of students are on track
    for reading, and only 40% are on track for math. Graduation rates may be as, or more, important as an indicator of school district performance. In Coos Bay, the Marshfield graduation rate is 63%, with 68% on track to graduate, and an overall completion rate (including GED and alternative diplomas) of 78%. North Bend’s record is lower than Coos Bay’s in a couple of measures: its graduation rate is 61%, though over 95% of students
    are on track to graduate, and 68% ultimately complete school in one form or another; in contrast, 95% of ORCO Tech students graduate with regular diplomas within five years, and over 95% are on track to graduate.

    Oregon public schools are funded through three basic sources: local property taxes, state contributions, and Federal contributions. The
    relative contribution of these sources to the total revenue available to the school districts has changed over time due to policy shifts that affected local property taxes, the shift of the majority of school funding to the State General Fund, and increases in Federal funds that became available with the No Child Left Behind Act. The cumulative effects of these changes are shown in Figure 4 for Coos Bay (left) and North Bend (right) for the period from the 1994-95 to 2012-13 school years. For Figure 4, revenues have been converted to a standard year (2010) based on the Consumer Price Index – Urban (CPI-U) to remove any effects of inflation (or deflation).

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    Figure 4. Sources of revenues (constant 2010$) for Coos Bay (left) and North Bend (right) School Districts

    State Support
    Oregon Ballot Measure 5 passed in 1990, amending the Oregon Constitution in ways that significantly affected educational financing. It capped local property tax rates, and shifted much funding previously received from these taxes to the state general fund (OSOS 1990).

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    Figure 5. Sources of funding for schools pre-and post-Measure 5 in Oregon.

    Figure 5 shows how funding sources, as statewide averages, have changed over time. Overall, pre-Measure 5, local property taxes contributed approximately two-thirds of school district revenues, state funds contributed about a quarter of the
    total, and the remaining was contributed by Federal and other sources. Post-Measure 5, state funds usually provide over half of funding for schools, local property taxes provide about a third, and Federal funds provide between 10% and 15% (in the recent years). One result of the Great Recession of 2008 and the resulting shortfalls in General Fund revenues is that state support for school funding was reduced from about two-thirds to about half (ODE 2013a).

    State contributions to school districts are based on average daily membership (ADM), usually calculated as the number of students enrolled on October 1 of the school year (ORS 327.013). Under the statute, the Oregon state school fund contribution contains a number of additions to the ADM based on teacher experience, presence of charter schools, disabled and special education students, rural schools, early English learners, and poverty levels. Figure 2 shows the decline in students in the Coos Bay and North Bend Districts over time, and while Figure 4 shows the effect Figure 5. Sources of funding that these student declines have had on state
    contributions to the two school districts, although this is also co-mingled with declining per ADM support.

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    Table 5. History of school general obligation bond and local option levy elections

    Federal Support

    As mentioned previously, there has been a significant growth in the proportion of school revenues obtained from the Federal government as a result of No Child Left Behind, but with these funds comes increased accountability and consequences. There are three significant sources of Federal funding that go to local school districts: (1) Title I funds
    provided based on the amount and types of disadvantaged students, and how an individual school district allocates its funds among schools; (2) support for students with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B for school-aged children; and (3) support to provide free and reduced-cost school lunches for economically-disadvantaged students through the Federal School Meal and Federal School
    Commodity Acts (New American Community Foundation 2013).

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    Table 4. Measure 5 maximum tax rates (per $1,000 valuation) and school district permanent tax levies.

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    Figure 6. Types of Federal funds going to school districts.

    Figure 6 shows the average proportions for these sources of funding for the Bandon, Coos Bay, and North Bend School Districts; and the proportions are quite similar between Coos Bay and North Bend, even though North Bend receives about half
    as much Federal funding as Coos Bay. Because the Title I funds are the most noteworthy by being tied to student and school performance, our discussion will focus on them. In Title I of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, funds are provided to schools serving high levels of students in poverty
    from birth through 12th grade (school districts receive funding for pre-kindergarten children through Title I even though they are not school-aged). Funds are distributed through four major formulas (New American
    Foundation 2013):

    1. Basic Grants (≈ 45% of funds) go to districts on a per-student basis if there are more than 10 students living in poverty in the district;

    2. Concentrated Grants (≈ 9% of funds) are provided on a per-student basis if the district has at least 15% or 6,500 students (whichever is less) living in poverty as a supplement to its Basic Grants;

    3. Targeted Assistance Grants (≈ 23%) provides escalating per-student funding based on the percentage of students in a district living in poverty, so that a district having over 38.2% students living in poverty
    gets four times what a district having fewer than 15.6% students receives; and

    4. Education Finance Incentive Grants (≈ 23%) target more aid to schools in states that (a) spend more per student; and (b), are high poverty schools where state aid is equitably distributed among all the districts’ schools.

    States and districts, in theory, are also required to remedy any imbalance in funding between Title I and non-Title I schools prior to receiving any Title I funds; in essence, the Title I funds are intended to supplement, not replace, usual expenditure levels. In exchange for Title I funds, states agreed that schools would be required to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) towards the goal that 100% of students would attain state standards for reading, math, science, and writing. An increasing progression of penalties are prescribed for those schools failing to meet AYP: the first two years of not meeting AYP goals has no effect; but failing in year 3 requires a School Improvement Plan, devoting at least 10% of their Title I funds to teacher development, and allowing parents to move their children to another school in the district; with failing year 4, the district is required to make interventions to restructure the school; if AYP is still not met in year 5, the district is required to reconstitute the staff (including leadership), change governance, convert the school to a charter school, allow for private management, or some similar major change.

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    Figure 7. Amount of Title 1 funds received by Districts,
    2002 – 2013 (2010$).*
    *Amount provided by the U.S. Dep’t. of Education to the State of Oregon for the school districts. State may retain up to 5% for administrative and School Improvement Fund purposes.

    In 2012, Oregon obtained a waiver from the Adequate Yearly Progress
    accountability requirements in No Child Left Behind that removed the more onerous outcomes of No Child Left Behind, replacing them with “Achievement Compacts” between the districts and the state. However, Oregon has been notified by the U.S. Department of Education that it is at high risk of losing its exemption because of its failure to institute a single, statewide assessment system for teachers.

    The amount of funds received by a specific school district is based on a complex set of factors, beginning with the overall Title I budget approved by the U.S. Congress. These funds are divided among the states, which then apportion them to the school districts using U.S. Census Bureau poverty data in a calculation that provides additional per-student funds as described above, as well as additional funding for homeless and neglected
    students. Figure 7 shows the trajectory of the funds that the U.S. Department of Education provides to the State of Oregon for the three school districts. The State of Oregon is allowed to deduct 1% of these funds for administrative expenses, and up to an additional 4% to place into a School Improvement Fund pool to provide additional assistance to the lowest 5% of performing schools. The funds shown in Figure 7 are reported in constant dollars (2010$) to remove any inflation effects.

    It’s clear from Figure 7 that Title I funds provided to the school districts (with the exception of Bandon) have been reduced in real terms since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2002. This is primarily due to stable or declining Federal funds, rather than a reduction in the number of qualifying students in a district. The American Recovery and Reconstruction
    Act (“Stimulus”) provided significant additions to Title I funding for the 2009-2010 school year that allowed schools to retain teachers in the face of significant declines in state revenues caused by the Great Recession.
    However, this one-time supplement that did not reverse long-term patterns (Figure 8).

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    Figure 8. Per student expenditures (2010$).

    As anticipated in the No Child Left Behind legislation, schools have focused their efforts on the early grades (Appendix 1). While neither the Coos Bay nor the North Bend School District explicitly breaks out Title I funds in their annual budgets, most of the individual school web pages identify staff who are funded by Title I, and often provide additional information on their programs.

    As intended, most emphasis is placed on improving reading and math performance using a combination of additional teachers, supplemental teachers aids, and activities to involve parents in the student’s education. For example, at Hillcrest School in the North Bend district, the focus on reading is through blocking out specific time during the day, involving Title I teachers with specialized knowledge during this time, and providing an afterschool program for the neediest students. The only Title I middle school, Sunset in the Coos Bay District, provides additional assistance in math and reading through its Title I program.

    In 1913, there were 91 school districts in Coos County; today, after many consolidations, there are six (Lansing 2008). In the project area, there were about 36 districts in 1913, and now, a hundred years later, there are
    only three. Consolidation of school districts arose due to improvements in transportation, an increase in student numbers with the post-WWII baby boom, and requirements for improved teaching and facilities to offer a
    wider range of courses. As part of the consolidations, rural schools were closed, and students were bussed (or “boated” earlier in earlier years) to schools closer to town. While there were many benefits to this consolidation, there were effects to communities when a local focus was lost, especially with the increased travel distance to residents’ employment (see Chapter 5: Jobs and Employment).

    Facilities
    Just as the community’s investment in education reflects its priorities, the investment in facilities that support education provides a daily reminder to students and teachers. The quality of facilities also affects the ability of students to learn and faculty to effectively teach. Both the Coos Bay and North Bend School Districts have facilities that encumber
    their effectiveness, and a number are at, or past, their useful life (Table 6). However, as discussed above, the two school districts are constrained in their ability to upgrade or replace their facilities due to the need for voter approval of general obligation bonds, and as seen in Table 4, this voter approval has not been forthcoming.

    The newest, currently occupied, school in the Coos Bay district (Millicoma Intermediate) was constructed over 50 years ago (Table 6). Coos Bay’s most recent building is Pirate Hall on the Marshfield High School Campus, finished in 2001, that houses science classes, a computer lab, and general 8th grade classes. Prior to that building, the most recent addition/upgrade was to Sunset Middle School in 1992, over twenty years ago. The District has an active Coos Bay Facilities Task Force that has been working with the DLR Group on a long-term strategic planning process to evaluate needs, and a proposal planned to be shared with the community in May, 2014. North Bend School District facilities are in a similar situation with respect to age and appropriateness. The North Bend School District is currently evaluating four options that would reconfigure the elementary schools so that each has the same grades (Table 1), fullday
    kindergarten would be provided, and the Middle School would have grades 6–8.

    Based on their proposals, the preferred option will likely be one that does not require additional construction or temporary buildings. Current
    (April, 2014) discussions include having the Lighthouse School move into the empty building owned by the Airport District that formerly housed the ACS call center.

    Closed Schools and Community
    Reductions in student numbers, aging infrastructure, increased expectations for a wider range of available classes, and improvements in transportation collectively pushed to consolidate schools, generally by closing those that were smaller, older, or in remote communities. Students at those schools are then bussed to schools in town, the exception being North Bay Elementary, which houses K-5 students as well as the Lighthouse Charter
    School. As can be seen in Figure 1, schools in the rural communities of Allegany, Coos River, Greenacres, Sumner, and Charleston were all closed within the last few decades, while four schools located within town (Milner Crest, Bunker Hill, Eastside, and Bangor) have been closed or repurposed. There is little economic disincentive to transporting these students for long distances because the state pays for 70% to 90% of the transportation costs. It could be that this lack of community interaction is having a significant detrimental effect on the project area’s lack of capacity and
    willingness to improve its educational system.

    It is possible for students to get a good education in project area schools. However, despite the best efforts of the schools districts, the
    educational system is not working well for a number of segments of the community.

    1. Based on the Oregon Department of Education’s District and School Report Cards (Table 3), there are some schools serving students in the project area that provide better education than others, at least for the average student. For an involved and educated parent, it is possible to navigate
    through the various school options to increase the likelihood that your child will be successful. But this requires being proactive, and might necessitate moving among the three districts.

    2. The combination of charter schools in the North Bend School District may
    provide the best pathway from kindergarten through high school for a student. Both standard curriculum elementary schools in North Bend are rated “above average” in comparison to other schools with similar demographics. However, test results from the Lighthouse School and ORCO Tech show they are superior, but rated as only “average” when compared
    to schools in their different demographic characteristic.

    3. In many ways, the North Bend schools are segregated by class and ethnicity, with the more economically disadvantaged, disabled, and underserved minorities predominantly attending North Bend Middle School, and continuing into the High School, compared to the more advantaged
    students going from Lighthouse to ORCO Tech (Appendix 1). The Middle School is in the bottom 15% of schools statewide, with the High School rated in the lowest 45% percentile of all high schools in the state.

    4. The situation with the Coos Bay schools is even more distressing: the only bright light in the 2012-2013 school performance measures was Millicoma Intermediate School, which as rated as above average, both statewide and compared to schools with comparable demographics. Marshfield High School, rated as a Level 3 (lowest 45%) can be considered as mediocre
    at best.

    5. Neither Coos Bay nor North Bend adequately serves disabled students or
    underserved minorities, at least according to test scores. With few exceptions, disabled students are performing at the lowest level in virtually all areas at all grade levels compared to other schools in the State, even though IDEA Part B funds are distributed evenly on a per-student basis. Similarly, while underserved races/ethnicities are generally rated Level 2 (out of five, with higher better) on standardized
    tests, Hispanic/Latino students often fare worse at Level 1 (with the exception of Millicoma Middle School, where they perform as well or better than white students).

    6. The state of educational infrastructure in the project area is a deterrent to effective education. The School Districts need to more successfully engage the community in order to gain the support they need to
    modernize.

    7. The constant closing and realignments in both the Coos Bay and North Bend School Districts may be causing problems with parent involvement (with commitments made long-term to a specific school and faculty). Ultimately, this may affect parents’ willingness to support schools through volunteering as well as through tax levies.

    8. The distance, and time required, for students from outlying areas to be bussed to centralized schools is leading to the creation of “home-schooling cooperatives.” One of these is run by parents in Allegany, and others may exist. Some of these students may be connected with the school districts through Resource Link in Coos Bay, or the Virtual Academy in North Bend, but in many cases they may not be associated with any formal school system.

    9. There is anecdotal evidence that the state of local schools is having adverse affects on local businesses, both through their inability to find trained (or trainable) employees, and in their ability to attract
    desirable employees to relocate to the Bay Area. “Chapter 5: Jobs and Employment” provides additional analysis of these potential effects.

    Bill Lansing, in the epilogue to his Remember When, closes by observing:

    The isolation that brought a small rural community together around a rustic school house for weekend dances, potluck socials, church or school plays has been replaced by modern roads and the information highway that
    connects in different ways. Computers, internet and travel opportunities
    offer many choices to families and individuals who may choose to gather in interest groups unrelated to their schools. … Centralized schools bring
    students and teachers together in modern facilities offering many ad-vantages and technologies, but a lesser degree of community interaction than in the past (Lansing 2008, 195).