Bethel School District Soars. by Pat Farr

Thursday, February 6th, 2014


Willamette High School girls won the state 5A basketball championship last year.  And they are ranked #1 entering the final weeks of this year’s season.

Annah Hickey, a Willamette High School senior, won the highly competitive Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce Future First Citizen award last year.  This year another Willamette High School senior, McKenzie McCausland, won the award.

Bethel School Board member Debi Farr congratulates WilHi Senior McKenzie McCausland on her selection as Future First Citizen

Bethel School Board member Debi Farr congratulates WilHi Senior McKenzie McCausland on her selection as Future First Citizen

Willamette High School, Bethel School District

Willamette High School, Bethel School District

And this just in:  Willamette High School and the Bethel School District has the highest public school graduation rate in the Eugene Springfield area.   See the story:  “Bethel Graduation Percentage Soars.”

Congratulations and thanks are in order for the students, parents, staff, administration and school board for the discipline and effort it takes to excel in education.

U of O students in Business Admin 352 want to make Eugene a better place to move about. By Pat Farr

Friday, February 10th, 2012

I gave a presentation to a group of students in the Erb Memorial Student Union on Wednesday evening, February 9.  The students had asked me to talk about local events and about public service in Eugene.  They were quite attentive and asked lots of pertinent questions.

After the class one of the students, Allana Strader, asked for a word with me.  She told me she was a member of a project team in a class, Business Administration 352, which has an assignment.  The assignment is to prepare and submit an ordinance or ordinance change to a local elective body.  It is worth 30% of the class grade and must, I suspect, be for the betterment of University of Oregon students.

They decided it was not right that skateboarders in Eugene were not allowed to travel in bicycle lanes, which is allowed in Portland.

Allana asked for my help.

I joined them the next day expecting them to need help from the grass roots on up, but they already had copies of the Portland ordinance and had identified where it would fit in the Eugene City Code.  They had, it would seem, done their homework.

U of O students from Business Admin 352, Allana Strada front right

All that remained for me to do to help was to provide the likely steps to having Council consider their ordinance.

These are the steps I recommended:

1.          Identify  a similar ordinance in a intraregional city (Portland for example)

2.         Begin testifying at Council Public Forums on Monday nights

Wear the same clothes you wear to class

You will have three minutes to speak

Be concise and confident

Speak of real impact of the ordinance

(such as skateboarding being some people’s sole means of  transportation

Use applicable anecdotal evidence:  “I save five minutes each way…”

3.         Prepare a draft ordinance with amendments particular to Eugene or personal preferences

Remember this is your ordinance and if need be it will be changed to comply with regulations

4.         Present the draft ordinance to a councilor (say, perhaps, Pat Farr)

5.         Councilor secures support for council action

Three councilors request work session

City attorney prepares draft ordinance language

6.         Council holds work session

7.         Ordinance is prepared

8.         Public process

Council solicits public testimony, written

Further testimony at Monday night public forum

9.         Work session (held by council)

10        Public hearing in council chamber

11.       Council passes ordinance or amended ordinance (at a subsequent meeting)

While it’s true that not every request for a new or revised ordinance is accepted, this project team of U of O students has in fact done their homework and their ordinance should be considered.

GOOD WORK!  This is one way you will change the world around you!


Bethel Education Foundation Founder Brooke Cottle receives LCOG Outstanding Service Award by Pat Farr

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Sometime in 2009 Brooke Cottle had some energy to spare.  Brooke is a mother of four young children and an active volunteer in their activities in the Bethel School District. She is fully engaged in community affairs, such as the planning and placement of the proposed YMCA in Bethel Park and organizing and planning the Officer Chris Kilcullen Memorial Garden at Willamette High School.  Her days are filled with more activity than most people would contemplate in a month.

But in 2009 she had some extra energy to spare.  She wanted kids in school—all kids—to have enriching experiences in the classroom and in outside activities beyond the regular learning experience.  So she got together with a group of Bethel parents and formed the Bethel Education Foundation. Nothing like it had been done in the community before so they had to start from scratch with new ideas.

Thanks to the support of the incredible Bethel community, they were able to fund over $25,000 worth of grants to Bethel Schools this school year!  The grants were for a wide variety of purposes and will enhance and broaden students’ educational experiences.

The 2nd Annual BEF (Bethel Education Foundation) Staff Talent Show was another hit this year.  You can see videos of all the staff talent acts on our BEF Facebook page. Their BEF Apple Campaign had a successful run in October. Similar to the Children’s Miracle Network program, participating Bethel businesses offered the chance to “buy an apple” and make a $1 donation to the Bethel Education Foundation.  Their plans are greater this year including an inspired “Bethel Trivia Night” in February.

On January 26 all of that extra energy that Brooke has to spare was rewarded by her being nominated for and winning the annual Lane Council of Governments Outstanding Citizen award.  It was presented by Colt Gill, Superintendent of Bethel Schools at the annual LCOG Appreciation Dinner in front of a room full of elected officials from all over Lane County.

Brooke Cottle receives the highly-deserved LCOG Outstanding Citizen Award from Superintendent Colt Gill

Gill announced the award, which was a surprise to Brooke, by telling the audience that she would defer all credit for the work of the Foundation to everyone else and away from herself.  Which she did.  But we all agree that the Foundation and its growing list of grants to the kids of Bethel would not have happened without that extra energy Brooke had to spare.

The award is yours, Brooke.  You earned it!






Students Wendy Trujillo, Willamette High, and Savannah Niemi, Kalapuya High, are future leaders! by Pat Farr

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Kids today.  What are we going to do?

Praise them, encourage them and thank them, that’s what.

I recently met, among other local students, two standouts from Bethel School District:  Wendy Trujillo from Willamette High School and Savannah Niemi from Kalapuya High School.  Based on my first meetings with them I think our future is in good hands.

I met Savannah when I served as “Principal for a Day” at Kalapuya.  When I spoke with her class she was attentive and after I had been asked questions about my work as a Legislator, Councilor, School Board Member, manager of Jerry’s, Director of FOOD for Lane County, National Guard Company Commander and in other places, she asked which of all the things I have done did I feel best about.

My answer was “FOOD for Lane County.”  She looked at first surprised, but then very thoughtful.

As I was leaving the High School, bidding farewell to Stefan Aumack (the actual Principal of the school) she bravely stepped over and addressed me.

“I’d like to do something for homeless people,” she said.  And she has plans to do something!  I will add more later on Savannah’s project.  You will like it.

I met Wendy recently when she spoke to a group of business and education leaders at the Chamber of Commerce.  She painted a picture of her future that involves being a leader herself and above all, making her family proud.  It made me proud to hear her describe how she plans to make an impact on her community.  Responding to a question about hunger she said, “I have been hungry, you cannot study when you’re hungry.”  I’ve been hungry, too, and when you are hungry there’s not much else you can think about.

Wendy and Savannah stand out in representing the thousands of young people we see around us every day:  they are “kids” who want the best for  their neighbors, their family, their friends and their community.  Kids who want to help make this a better place for everybody.  Kids who understand that they will be an important part of the future.

Praise them, encourage them and thank them.


Eugene Election Result Maps Online

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Maps are online of Eugene’s May Income Tax vote and 4J Bond Measure vote.

Local Income Tax? by Pat Farr

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Late in the evening of February 14 the Eugene City Council voted to refer to the electorate of Eugene a decision regarding whether or not to impose a local income tax to support public K-12 schools in the Bethel 52 and Eugene 4J districts.

As with any decision that an elected body makes, this decision isn’t universally popular.

In May, if you’re a registered to vote in Eugene, you will have a chance to vote on whether or not to ask the Eugene City Council to impose an unprecedented local income tax.  Details will follow in a subsequent article.

The issue was precipitated to the Council with short notice and little time to effectively answer all the questions such a decision requires.  A November ballot would have allowed more time to answer critical questions but would have limited the school districts’ ability to use the results in their budget processes.

Now it’s up to those in favor of or opposed to the tax to weigh in by voting in May.

An afternoon with Governor Kitzhaber (well, actually, 45 minutes). by Pat Farr

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I was invited to join a small group of school and municipal officials in a meeting with Governor John Kitzhaber that took place on February 2.  It was a short meeting—about 45 minutes—held in the Governor’s conference room.  In addition to me, the Eugene contingency included Colt Gill, Bethel School Superintendent, George Russell, 4J Superintendent, Mayor Kitty Piercy, Councilor Andrea Ortiz, Bethel School Board Chair Alan Laisure, Craig Smith of the 4J School Board and Joy Marshall of Stand for Children. Other delegates were present from the tri-county Metro area.

The subject was: temporary local tax options to support public schools.  It was no surprise that the Governor was not enthusiastic about the prospect of local governments referring tax measures during a time of, in his words,
“heavy lifting” in the current Legislative Session.  Following are exerpts from the pages of notes I took during the discussion.

Prior to his comments on local options the Governor spoke about some of his education priorities and views:

1.  The state Superintendent of Schools should be Governor appointed, not elected

2.  The Legislature is unlikely to allocate “much more than 5.6 (billion dollars)” for this biennium

3.  Any money allocated in addition to $5.6 billion with existing revenue would have to be taken from other programs (he named social services as one such program)

4.  Laying off teachers gets you to balance pretty quickly but doesn’t solve the long term issue

From School District Messages he said, “We support the Governor’s priority of minimizing lay-offs and avoiding additional cut school days…”  (Read the full text of the Governor’s School District Messages memo in the previous ForumLane post, “Governor’s School District Messages from the Office of John Kitzhaber.”

He spoke of the collective bargaining environment as it pertains to school budgeting.  He suggested that continuing the practice of “negotiating contracts beyond our means (to fund them)” is not sustainable.  He strongly stated that he is in favor of unions and believes that unions “created the middle class.” 

From School District Messages he said, “We agree that we should be negotiating contracts with teachers within the available resources for 2011-2013″  (Read the full text of the Governor’s School District Messages memo in the previous ForumLane post, “Governor’s School District Messages from the Office of John Kitzhaber.”

Governor Kitzhaber is and always has been a strong advocate for public education.

In regard to local jurisdictions asking for tax measures he said, “I would rather we didn’t have a bunch of operating levies out there in the middle of a legislative session (with a lot of “heavy lifting” ahead of the Legislature).”

From School District Messages he said, “We need to work towards statewide solutions for all of Oregon’s communities, and find funding solutions for the long term, not just quick fixes for the next two years. ” (Read the full text of the Governor’s School District Messages memo in the previous ForumLane post, “Governor’s School District Messages from the Office of John Kitzhaber.”

He also said that such levies give the false sense that there’s “quite a bit” more funding out there, and that this approach takes the pressure off solving the long term issue.  He suggested that “spending political capital to change the system, not perpetuate what’s out there” was important. 

He also stated that the local option approach “could undermine the message–this moment in time is not right strategically.”

He said the question should be, “What do we want it (school funding) to look like in the next 8-10-12 years?” and not “How do we fund the next 2 years?”  He suggested that the question of how we’re spending the money and not how much we’re asking for should be preeminent.

He did not ask directly that local governments refrain from seeking alternate revenue streams.  However, while acknowledging that “some districts will move forward this spring with new local funding levies” he asked us to think, “does the timing make sense in the larger revenue picture?”

Governor Kitzhaber wants public schools to excel and is committed to the future of Oregon’s public education system.  We should all acknowledge Governor Kitzhaber’s leadership in prioritzing education.  I share the Governor’s commitment to create an education system that prepares our students to succeed in the 21st century.

The Governor has put forward a plan for education rebuilding that includes new looks at how schools are administered and potentially funded for the future.  His plan is bold and will take cooperation to implement. 

It will also acknowledge obvious difficult choices to be made by the boards of school districts throughout the state and by the local elected officials and electorate that will be asked to help.

The Governor’s “School District Messages” from the Office of Governor John Kitzhaber, by Pat Farr

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The following link is to School District Messages, a text from the Office of Governor John Kitzhaber.  It is the Governor’s staff summation of points from the meeting between the Governor and Lane, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington county education advocates, which included district staff, board members, municipal elected officials and other advocates.

LF Governor messages 020411 pdf