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The district and community will discuss an evaluation from consultant Rob Saxton

PMG FILE PHOTO - The community has not passed a bond in four tries and the unsafe middle school needs attention. The Corbett School District board and administration are planning a public meeting on how to proceed after an independent consultant evaluated the district and suggested some big changes.

In a message to school families on Friday, March 29, the district said, "Since the release and presentation of Rob Saxton's report on March 7, there have been questions about the District and School Board's response to the Rob Saxton report and recommendations."

The announcement said the district is "processing the information, calculations and recommendations" and have "questions and clarifications" they want to work through with Saxton before the board weighs in on the 53-page report.

The district has scheduled a special board meeting work session to discuss the report and how to move forward for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in the Corbett Grade School cafeteria, 35800 E. Historic Columbia River Highway. It is open to the public.

The community has failed in the last four attempts to pass a bond to upgrade its school buildings. A community group pushed for an independent evaluation of the district as a way to build trust between the schools and community and potentially pass a bond.

The district paid for an assessment by Rob Saxton, former head of the Oregon Department of Education.

Saxton recommended forming a committee to try to hammer out a shared vision for the school district as a way to end friction that has plagued the community regarding its schools for years.

Strong disagreements

"Currently, the disagreements are so strong neither side is ever going to completely prevail, and frankly, neither side is completely right," Saxton's report said.

Saxton also recommended other big changes to the district including shrinking the district and dropping a requirement that high school students take multiple college-level courses.

About half the students in Corbett schools come from out of district. Some community members want only children who live in the district to attend Corbett schools.

The law that allows out-of-district transfers expired and the Corbett administration has discussed the idea of creating a charter school district to allow schools to keep educating kids who are not from Corbett and retain state funds that come with them.

Confusion reigns

"There was some confusion after the regular March School Board meeting about whether or not the District has already converted to a public charter school. The District has not," the district's Friday, March 29, message said.

The board and administration said in the communication to parents that the parents and community could submit questions by Friday, the same day of the message. There will also be opportunity for public comment during the meeting.

"We recognize this is short notice for the meeting and hope you will be able to join us," the message said.

The district is moving ahead to create the committee suggested by Saxton to forge a common vision for Corbett Schools. Saxton suggested the group be balanced between critics and supporters of the district and comprise three school board members, Superintendent Randy Trani, community parents, out-of-district parents, students and staff.

"In the coming week, we will send out more details and a timeline as to how this committee will be formed, the "charge" from the Board, who will be facilitating and how to get involved," the district message said. There will be an online application available for those interested in participating. The district expects to get the committee up and running by the end of April.


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