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We’re Thankful for You

A message from Superintendent Cydney Vandercar 

4J families, happy Thanksgiving. This year is different and difficult because of the coronavirus pandemic. Thanksgiving this year will be quieter and gatherings will be smaller, to keep from spreading the virus. But there is still much to be thankful for.

Click here for a brief video message from Superintendent Cydney Vandercar: Video: Giving Thanks

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Demolition Begins at North Eugene Site

Silver Lea building removal making way for the new high school

On a wet fall morning, big machines started moving at the North Eugene High School site. After salvaging materials for reuse and completing abatement, workers have begun careful demolition of the old Silver Lea elementary school building, to the west of the current high school building, removing the structure to make way for the new North Eugene High School.

Workers will remove the nearly 60-year-old Silver Lea facility in stages, demolishing a section and removing all the debris before moving on to the next section of the building. The phased demolition will proceed over the following weeks to prepare the site for new construction starting in early 2021.

The Silver Lea building previously housed Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion Elementary School and Corridor Elementary School. Yujin Gakuen has moved to co-locate at the Kelly Middle School site. Corridor closed in June 2020.

While the Silver Lea building is taken apart and cleared away, the project architect design team of Rowell Brokaw Architects and Opsis Architecture will finalize the design details for the new North Eugene High School. The completion of the final design is anticipated for mid-January 2021 with the documents submitted to the City of Eugene for permit review in January.

The North region’s new flagship high school will be the first new high school building to be constructed in the Eugene–Springfield area in more than 50 years. The new school building will be designed for safety and security, efficiency and sustainability and 21st century learning including career technical education. The high school will be a high-quality learning environment and community asset now and for generations to come.

The new North Eugene High School is on schedule for a fall 2023 opening date. After the new school opens, the current NEHS building will be available to house other educational programs.

 

Second day of debris removalDemolition of the front office.Debris piles from two days of demolition.

Learn More 

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Board Meeting Summary: Nov. 18, 2020

November 18, 2020
School Board Work Session & Regular Meeting

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the school board held a work session and regular meeting. The meeting was held virtually in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. The meeting was open to the public via live video on Zoom, audio stream, and radio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM. Public comment was received via email.

Work Session

In this work session, a joint meeting of the school board and 4J Equity Committee members, members discussed the formation of a working group to discuss student safety, consider issues and problem solve. The discussion touched on the number and representation of the working group; suggestions for facilitators that would run their meetings; and also a broader discussion about what may be missing from the draft road map that outlines the process toward the adoption of an updated student safety plan.

Regular Meeting

Introductory Comments

Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar discussed the statewide two-week “freeze” to reduce the rapid community spread of the coronavirus in Oregon and noted that case rates in Lane County currently are not trending in the right direction to resume in-person learning.

In positive news, the superintendent said the state’s economic and revenue forecast showed a slow and steady economic recovery in Oregon, a good sign that the district wouldn’t face budget cuts during the current school year. She cautioned the two-week freeze could have an impact on the state’s recovering economy.

Superintendent Vandercar reported demolition has begun on the former Silver Lea school building to make way for the new North Eugene High School building. She said that memories of the 60-year-old school building, most recently the home of Yujin Gakuen and Corridor elementary schools, would live on in the community.

Items for Information (no board action is expected to be taken)

Received an update on COVID-19 and comprehensive distance learning: District staff presented details about the two-week “freeze” ordered by Gov. Kate Brown that took effect earlier in the day. The governor’s order has few direct impacts but some indirect ones on 4J’s operations. The district has encouraged 4J employees not to travel outside the state for the Thanksgiving holiday, and to self-quarantine for two weeks if they do, in line with travel advisory issued by the governor. Working from home where feasible is particularly encouraged during the two-week freeze; staff who can complete some or all of their duties remotely have been advised to talk with their supervisor about establishing a teleworking agreement if they do not already have one in place. 

Parents are making requests now to change their students’ learning pathway for the second term. The district’s recent communications about this are not related to the “freeze,” but timed to prepare for the start of the new trimester for middle and high schools on Dec. 14.

District staff reported on the ongoing planning for the start of a truncated athletic season, set to begin with winter sports in late December, and the return of in-person learning in a hybrid model sometime after the new year, although that would require a significant reversal of the rising COVID-19 case counts in Lane County. The earliest students would return for hybrid learning is late January. K–3 students would be the first to return to school buildings, followed by older elementary students. Under the guidance from the Oregon Department of Education, unless case rates drop precipitously, middle and high school students cannot begin to return to classrooms until at least four weeks after elementary students begin on-site learning.

In the meantime, the district is collecting feedback from staff, parents and students about comprehensive distance learning and the support services students and families are receiving.

The board’s questions and discussion centered how the district is monitoring student performance during distance learning and the demands of homework on students during this challenging period.

Received an update on live public comment during board meetings: Starting with the school board’s regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 2, board members will welcome residents to their computer screens to share their comments on issues impacting 4J. Interested residents can submit their request to provide public comment at 4j.lane.edu/board/publiccomment. The deadline is noon (12 p.m.) on the Monday before each regular meeting of the school board.

Items for Action

• Approved items on the consent agenda: The board approved a revised contract with Interim Superintendent Cydney Vandercar through June 30, 2022, and authorized the replacement of more than 1,000 document cameras that are at or near the end of their life at an estimated cost of about $300,000. The vote was unanimous.

Approved vote in the Oregon School Boards Association election: The board approved the state association’s 2021–2022 Legislative Priorities and Principles as recommended by the Legislative Policy Committee. The vote was 6–1, with board member Gordon Lafer voting no. 

Approved grant agreement for reduced Student Investment Act funds: The school board has unanimously approved for a second time the district’s grant agreement with the Oregon Department of Education to receive Student Success Act funds during the 2020–21 school year—an amount reduced by two-thirds from initial estimates, due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Oct. 21, the school board approved the agreement as part of its consent agenda, which are routine matters that the board can approve with a single vote. After the vote, the Oregon Department of Education notified the district that the board must approve the agreement as an individual item for action rather than a consent agenda item. The delay caused by this requirement will not impact the grant award amount.

Items for Future Action (board action is expected at a later meeting)

Considered the process for evaluating the job performance of the interim superintendent: The board evaluates the superintendent’s job performance annually under the timeline set forth in the superintendent’s employment contract. The evaluation is based on the job duties described in the superintendent’s contract, board policy and progress in attaining goals established by the superintendent and board. The board’s discussions with the superintendent about their performance are conducted in executive session. A summary of the evaluation is presented publicly.

Considered adopting policy on hate symbols and bias incidents: On Sept. 17, the Oregon State Board of Education approved the temporary All Students Belong rule that bans the presence or use of hate symbols, including the swastika, noose and Confederate flag, on school grounds or in any school or educational program that receives state revenue. It also requires school districts to adopt a policy banning hate symbols and establish procedures to address bias incidents. The temporary rule allows the use of the symbols in teaching that aligns with state standards.

For decades, 4J has prohibited discrimination and harassment against students and staff based on their race, color, religion and other protected statuses, and has measures to enforce such policies. However, the district does not currently have an adopted board policy explicitly banning the identified hate symbols.

School administrators have reported examples in recent years of the presence of these symbols on 4J school grounds, such as displays of the Confederate flag on cars in parking lots and clothing, swastikas at the entry of a school or on notebooks or desks, and images of nooses and swastikas displayed as a result of hacking by district students. These incidents are distressing and harmful for both students and staff, and take administrators and staff from other critical work.

Proposed policy ACB – Hate Symbols and Bias Incidents is intended to meet the requirements of the state rule. It defines hate symbols, bias incidents and hate crimes; prohibits them on district properties and in district programs; affirms that students and staff are entitled to work in discrimination- and harassment-free educational environments; and directs the superintendent to develop rules necessary to implement the policy. The board will vote on its adoption at an upcoming meeting.

Public Input

Public comment was submitted via email to board@4j.lane.edu. The board read, reviewed and took into consideration all comments submitted by email by 12 p.m. the day of the meeting.

Agenda and Materials

Nov. 18 agenda and materials
Nov. 18 board work session recording
Nov. 18 regular meeting recording

 


NOTE:  This is a quick summary of the topics and actions at a meeting of the school board. This document is NOT the official minutes of the school board. Official minutes are posted after they are drafted, reviewed and approved by the board. Audio recordings of meetings are typically posted within two days after the meeting. 

School Board Meeting Schedule & Information

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School Board Invites Live Public Comments

Residents can offer testimony to the school board via Zoom starting in December

4J residents are invited to provide live public comment to the school board via Zoom beginning next month.

The Eugene School Board has held its meetings online since March in adherence to coronavirus restrictions for public health. It began video live-streaming its regular meetings via Zoom in September. Previously, residents could listen in on the meetings via live audio broadcast on KRVM 1280-AM and online streaming, which remain available. Audio recordings of board meetings are posted online shortly after each meeting.

Starting with the school board’s regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 2, board members will welcome residents to their computer screens to share their comments on issues impacting 4J. The board is launching the virtual public comment periods to increase community connection and transparency during physical distancing.

Up to 10 residents will provide public comment at each meeting. The time limit per speaker is two minutes. If more than 10 residents request to speak, the selection and order of speakers will be determined randomly. To ensure a diversity of voices, however, priority will be given to residents who did not provide public comment during the previous two meetings.

Interested residents can submit a request to provide public comment online at 4j.lane.edu/board/publiccomment. The deadline is noon (12 p.m.) on the Monday before each regular meeting of the school board. District staff will contact requesters after the deadline to notify them whether they have been selected to speak and, if so, when and how to connect to provide public comment to the board.

Board meetings are usually held on the first and third Wednesday of each month; upcoming meetings are listed at 4j.lane.edu/board/meetings. The public comment period will begin shortly after the school board meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Residents can continue to submit written comments via email to board@4j.lane.edu, with “Public Comment” in the subject line. The board will read and take into consideration all comments submitted by noon on the day of the meeting.

More information:
School Board Public Comment Request Form
Eugene School Board Meeting Information
Board Meeting Live Audio Stream
Board Meeting Live Zoom Stream

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Special Education Virtual Parent Night Dec. 9

Special education resources and return-to-learning updates

Parents and guardians of students receiving special education are invited to a live webinar to learn more about 4J services. Special education staff will discuss topics such as resources for parents, Student Success Act investments for underserved populations, returning to in-person learning in a hybrid model, assessments at home and service updates.

Special Education Virtual Parent Night
Wednesday, December 9, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Zoom webinar: https://zoom.us/j/97767692853?pwd=TjZTSW5Hd0gvRWVMWE1PZGJFdStWQT09
invite a friend

Topics include:
• Resources for parents
• Student Success Act funding
• What will hybrid in-person learning look like (health and safety)
• Assessments at home
• Student Services Department (SSD) updates

For more information or to request language interpretation services, please email Shawna Scroggins at scroggins_s@4j.lane.edu.

Student Services Department

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District, Union Agree on Teacher Working Conditions

Agreement addresses health precautions and teacher preparation during distance and hybrid learning

Eugene School District 4J and its teachers’ union, the Eugene Education Association, have reached an agreement on working conditions during both comprehensive distance learning and hybrid on-site/online learning models.

Students began the 2020–21 school year learning from home and will not return to classrooms until January or later, when public health conditions allow. When school buildings reopen, it will be in a hybrid model, with students attending classes on-site at school and online at home in alternating groups.

Among other things, the working conditions agreement:
• Provides teachers 500 weekly minutes of individual preparation time during the workday (an increase over the established 300–350 minutes per week), and 215 minutes of common planning time.
• Affirms the district will make a good faith effort to assign qualifying high-risk staff to available positions with minimal or no in-person student contact time for the 2020–21 school year.
• Addresses health and safety conditions, including hand sanitizer stations, the provision of face coverings to all union members and personal protective equipment to represented medical professionals, and alternative workspace when union members are unable to use their regular workspace for preparation or unassigned time.
• Addresses the recording of live instruction.
• Provides for monthly meetings between the district and EEA leadership concerning the district’s plan for hybrid learning.

The agreement is temporary and will expire either when the district’s instruction model changes from distance or hybrid learning to regular full-time on-site learning for all students, at the expiration of Oregon’s emergency declaration related to the coronavirus pandemic, or on June 30, 2021, whichever happens first. The agreement does not establish precedent or status quo conditions beyond its expiration date.

This working conditions agreement is in addition to the one-year extension to EEA’s labor agreement that the district and union finalized in September. The union and district started negotiating the working conditions agreement in July, shortly after the Oregon Department of Education released its initial guidelines for allowing students to return to on-site learning.

The agreement applies to 4J’s teachers and licensed specialists, such as school nurses and counselors, who are represented by the Eugene Education Association (EEA).

Working Conditions Agreement: Approved by School Board Nov. 4
Teacher Contract Extension Agreement: Approved by School Board Sept. 16

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Distance Learning Feedback Invited

How is distance learning going? Families invited to share their experience with school services this fall

4J Distance Learning Feedback  (open through Nov. 22)
Comparte sus experiencias con el enseñanza a distancia  (hasta el 22 de nov.)

4J families, how is distance learning going for your student? Now that schools and families have some experience with comprehensive distance learning this fall, Eugene School District 4J is asking for parents’ and students’ feedback on the distance learning and support services they are receiving.

Please let us know about your experience and how we can improve your student’s virtual learning experience as we continue down this unprecedented road. This survey may take about 15 minutes to complete. Teachers and other staff have been asked for their feedback in a separate response form for educators.

Parent & Student Survey: 4J Distance Learning Feedback 
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/4Jparentfallfeedback
open through Sunday, November 22 

The feedback from parents, students and staff will help us continue to improve in the future.

The district is planning toward a return to school buildings in a hybrid model alternating cohorts in online and onsite learning at a point beginning after winter break, if public health conditions allow. Lane County currently does not meet the public health metrics required by the state to bring students back to school buildings.

Students will continue learning from home in the meantime, and will continue online learning at home in alternating weeks after on-site learning resumes in a hybrid model.

4J Distance Learning Feedback Form  (open through Nov. 22)
Comparte sus experiencias con el enseñanza a distancia  (hasta el 22 de nov.)

Return-to-Learning Frequently Asked Questions 

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Learning Pathways: Request Now to Change Next Term

Same School Hybrid • Same School Online • Eugene Online Academy: To change to a different pathway next term, submit request now

Learning Pathway Change Request Form  (deadline Nov. 22)
Solicitud de cambiar caminos educativos  (hasta el 22 de nov.)

This summer all 4J families chose a return-to-learning pathway for their students: Same School Hybrid, Same School Online, or Eugene Online Academy. For any families who want to change their choice, now is the time to submit a request.

In August, 4J families were asked to select the learning pathway they preferred for their student for the foreseeable future in this school year. Those who did not respond were enrolled in the “Same School Hybrid” default option. This was important to ensure teachers and support staff were assigned where needed to support students in each learning model. However, circumstances change and families may make different choices over the course of the school year and the evolution of the pandemic.

Parents may request now to change their student to a different learning pathway option at the next term change — such as from their regular school to the Eugene Online Academy, or from an online option to the hybrid on-site option. The new trimester for middle and high schools begins on December 14, and the new semester for elementary schools begins on February 1.

Students changing between learning pathways could potentially impact students’ current teachers and class assignments, even for a child who does not change pathways. Every effort will be made to minimize these changes, but shifts in class sizes could lead to a need to balance staffing and class rosters.

Sunday, November 22 is the deadline to submit requests to change a student’s learning pathway at the next term change. The online request form is available in English and Spanish. Families without access to complete the form online can call 541-790-7707.

No response is needed from families who are satisfied with the choice they selected at the start of the school year and do not want to make any change.

Three learning pathways for 4J students in 2020–21:

SAME SCHOOL HYBRID — When 4J schools return to in-person learning, it will be in a hybrid model. Students will attend classes on-site at school and online at home in alternating weeks. Eugene School District 4J is planning toward a return to in-person learning at a point beginning after winter break if public health conditions allow. (Lane County currently does not meet the metrics required by the state to resume in-person learning.)

SAME SCHOOL ONLINE — When 4J schools resume on-site learning in a hybrid model, students enrolled in this learning pathway will remain 100% online. This will look different from the distance learning provided for all students this fall, but will include some synchronous (live) learning. Students from different schools may be assigned to a combined classroom for their grade level, though each group of students will continue a connection with their current school.

EUGENE ONLINE ACADEMY — The Eugene Online Academy provides 100% online, asynchronous (on-demand) learning, supplemented by optional real-time check-ins. It uses curriculum specifically designed for online learning, facilitated by licensed 4J teachers. Students enrolling in the Eugene Online Academy this year will not lose their place at their regular school and may return to their regular school at the next term change or the end of the year.

Learning Pathway Change Request Form  (deadline Nov. 22)
Solicitud de cambiar caminos educativos  (hasta el 22 de nov.)

Return-to-Learning Frequently Asked Questions 

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4J Enrollment Declines Due to Pandemic

2020 enrollment of 15,839 students is 474 fewer than last year • Kindergarteners account for biggest decline

Student enrollment in Eugene School District 4J has fallen this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The district’s official annual enrollment count on October 1 was 15,839 students, a 474-student decrease from last year and 679 fewer students than the district had originally projected to enroll this year.

The steep enrollment decline is expected to be temporary, driven by the worst national public health crisis in more than a century. The coronavirus pandemic prompted the closure of school buildings in mid-March, and students moved to emergency remote learning for the remainder of the 2019–20 academic year. Students began the 2020–21 school year learning from home and aren’t expected back in classrooms until January or later, if public health conditions allow.

More than half of the district’s enrollment decline is in kindergarten and first grade, with kindergarten enrollment 21.6% below projections, the highest underenrollment of any grade level. Many other school districts in Oregon have reported experiencing similar enrollment drops concentrated in kindergarten.

About two-thirds of the 474 students not enrolled in 4J schools that were last year have either enrolled in virtual charter schools or registered as being homeschooled. Some others may be delaying kindergarten enrollment until next year.

Before the pandemic, 4J enrollment had experienced some moderate growth that reversed an era of declining student populations. District enrollment grew steadily through Eugene’s expansive growth and the Baby Boom to a peak of nearly 22,000 students in 1969, before trending downward to the previous low of 16,006 students in 2014. Since then, enrollment had been on the rise, with students coming both from within the district and as out-of-district transfer students choosing to enroll in 4J. The district saw three consecutive years of enrollment growth beginning in 2015, before a dip in 2018 followed by an uptick to 16,313 students in 2019.

 

Grade 2020 Enrollment Projection Difference % Difference
K 996 1,270 -274 -21.6
1st 1,209 1,296 -87 -6.7
2nd 1,103 1,179 -76 -6.4
3rd 1,148 1,198 -50 -4.2
4th 1,150 1,194 -44 -3.7
5th 1,139 1,179 -40 -3.4
6th 1,222 1,249 -27 -2.2
7th 1,256 1,290 -34 -2.6
8th 1,277 1,296 -19 -1.5
9th 1,334 1,352 -18 -1.3
10th 1,308 1,334 -26 -1.9
11th 1,298 1,319 -21 -1.6
12th 1,399 1,362 +37 +2.7
TOTAL 15,839 16,518 -679 -4.1

 

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North Eugene High School Design Nearing Completion

Final school design process wrapping up mid-January

Design documents are nearly complete and construction will begin this spring on the new building for North Eugene High School. The North region’s new flagship high school will be the first new high school building to be constructed in the Eugene–Springfield area in over 50 years.

The North Eugene High School design team of Rowell Brokaw Architects and Opsis Architecture is quickly approaching the end of the design phase for the new school building. Final design completion is anticipated for mid-January 2021 with documents being submitted to the City of Eugene for permit review in January.

The latest design and building renderings for the new North Eugene High School are shared below. While renderings help envision and understand a design’s team vision, these images are speculative and the final constructed building may see some minor cosmetic differences.

The new North will be designed for safety and security, efficiency and sustainability, and 21st century learning including career technical education. The new facility is being designed in accordance with new high school educational specifications, district technical specifications, the 4J Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan, and informed by community input and feedback.

Activity at the school site will ramp up soon, even before final design completion. The old Silver Lea building at the west end of the school property is being removed to make way for the new high school to be built; abatement is currently underway and demolition will begin soon.

Construction for the new building is scheduled to start in late spring 2021. The project is on schedule with a fall 2023 opening date.

The new high school will be a high-quality learning environment and community asset now and for generations to come. After the new school opens, the current NEHS building will be available to house other educational programs.

 

About the bond measure: Voters in Eugene School District 4J resoundingly passed the school bond measure in November 2018 to fund capital improvements for 4J schools. In addition to constructing a new building for North Eugene High School, bond funds will be used to construct new school buildings for Edison Elementary and Camas Ridge Elementary School, expand Gilham Elementary School, and make other capital improvements across the district. Every school will benefit.

Learn More 

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