If there is a way to deal with bullying in schools in a positive manner, the Hillsboro School District wants to do it. That was the message from Tuesday night’s school board work session at district headquarters.

Members of the school district’s staff have been working with the Hillsboro Youth Advisory Council since the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year to create and promote an anti-bullying campaign.

“We thought it would be a good avenue for the program to have a student-led, student-driven solution,” said Casey Waletich, the district’s director of safety and operations.

YAC consists of about 30 secondary school students who represent each feeder group within the school district. The district partnered with the Portland-based Lines for Life Bullying Prevention to provide a series of workshops for YAC to guide the group through the development process.

The goal of the program is to produce print and video material about bullying and harassment prevention that can be distributed in schools and throughout the community, Waletich said.

The district already has received a gold star rating for its anti-bullying policy from a state oversight agency, but that is just a start, said Lorena Colcer, YAC co-chair and a senior at Glencoe High School.

“We want to deliver a positive message and even avoid the word bullying,” Colcer said. “We want to promote ‘Be a friend’ or ‘Be friendly,’ which will get a much more positive result from the student body.”

YAC will hold meetings in January to finalize the campaign and help refine the process for reporting incidents of bullying. The group will also create a campaign slogan that encourages cultural changes at schools and empowers students to have a voice in identifying and preventing harassing behavior, Colcer said.

In advance of the campaign, the district has established a new telephone-based reporting system for anonymous tips that anyone can use, Waletich said.

“It’s going slowly, but tips are coming in,” he said.

In other business, the board discussed the short session the Oregon Legislature will hold in February.

Communications Director Beth Graser said the Legislature will likely focus on urgent issues, such as health care and the problems that have arisen with the Cover Oregon health insurance system.

“There doesn’t seem to be a big appetite for education,” Graser said.

Legislators are limited to the number of bills they can introduce and have yet to reveal the kind of legislation that will be discussed, Graser said, who noted lobbying efforts might be best reserved for the 2015 session.

“We had a legislator telling us the same thing, that we should be gearing up for 2015,” said Superintendent Mike Scott.

The board agreed to hold a public meeting if one can be arranged before or near the start of the legislative session on Feb. 3 and intends to invite state lawmakers to speak with their constituents.

Board Chair Kim Strelchun said it would be an opportunity for community members to ask legislators questions and discuss the ongoing funding shortfall the district is facing.

“We need to be constantly reminding them we don’t have enough money and we are stretched too thin,” Strelchun said.

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