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The community of Mount Angel has once again proven itself as a courageous supporter of educating our youth.

On Nov. 5 voters approved a $10.4 million General Obligation Bond that will renovate district facilities to improve learning spaces, address safety and security, and upgrade several areas that have not seen improvements for 50 years. Convincing voters to approve bonds for school districts is extremely challenging, even more so during times of slow economic recovery. Across the state only three of 13 bond measures up for a vote were actually passed.

Our community’s statement of approval not only validates its unwavering commitment to educating kids, but also preparing kids for the opportunities of the future as well. When I address our district staff we talk about becoming the “Best Small School District in Oregon.” The Mount Angel staff has the skills, commitment and community support to be the best at preparing kids for the future. They truly put their heart and soul into every kid that comes through their doors. The planned renovations and upgrades will “add another leg to the milking stool” by improving efficiencies and inadequate spaces that will ultimately enable, inspire and empower success.

The approval of this bond is truly uplifting for staff, student and parent morale. The opportunities for kids will expand far beyond better buildings and athletic facilities. Many of the renovations will inspire change to the culture of the buildings.

Kids in our small community rely on their schools for study space and activities outside of the regular school day as well. The proposed renovations to the middle school gym and the high school cafeteria will provide substantial improvements to accessibility and usability for students and the community.

The Mount Angel School Board has always supported a good balance of academic and co-curricular/extra-curricular programs, even through the past four years of heart-wrenching reductions to budgets, staff and programs. Their focus has always been on what’s best for kids.

Educating today’s youth has become increasingly challenging. We are implementing a much more rigorous curriculum with the Common Core State Standards and the assessments demand a much higher level of performance.

Our current first grade students will be expected to meet the demands of the Governor’s 40-40-20 plan in order to graduate in June 2025. Today’s youth face challenges much different than in recent history. Graduates need to be highly skilled or earn degrees and a good work ethic to be successful. The evolution of technology and social media has increased mobility and access to information which presents a whole new level of challenges and benefits.

There are certainly limits to small rural school districts. Resources are limited and most staff serves in multiple roles and responsibilities. However, when you have a committed group of professionals that are passionate about teaching and committed to working collaboratively in the best interest of kids, you have a recipe for becoming the “Best Small School District in Oregon.” There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. With the passage of the school bond, the community has confirmed its support for the vision of the school district which is, “Educating capable, caring and responsible citizens.”

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