News from the Superintendent – April 2018

News from the Superintendent

This next week we will begin State Mandated Testing to measure the percentage of students (grades 3-8 and 11) who are proficient in reading, writing math and science. Our performance will always vary from year to year depending on the composition of our students. The composition of students in a small school district next to Eugene and Springfield can change dramatically from year to year (variables not reported by the state). For example, our 2018 senior class were Freshman my first year in the district. 100% of the Freshman in the 14-15 school year were on track for graduation. The same cohort of students who were on track for graduation in 14-15 as Freshman, will graduate this year. However, we do have transfer students enrolling who came to us to get more individualized attention and pursue credit recovery. I’m happy to say that most of our transfer students are on track as well, but not all. We get no credit for helping transfer students get back on track so they can be productive citizens. In fact, if these students do poorly on the end of year mandated test, we are punished by the state sending out school district performance evaluations based on one end of year test score. It’s difficult to judge school districts based on one test score unless you include the multiple variables that contributed to the test score. Therefore, MSD celebrates individual growth as measured by our local formative assessments.

In this newsletter, I will focus on Facilities and Instruction.


UAS Shot of School District
This picture was taken by Chandra Craig while she was flying the drone to get aerial views of our campus. Chandra is one of the only high school students in Lane County that has earned her FAA license to fly drones.

We have completed all the deferred maintenance projects on the (20 year old) high school building – new roof, new exterior paint, new gutters, new gym floor and new heating system. So often, people consider the high school as a new building? MHS is a 20 year old building that needed maintenance. (total cost of $300,000). The building was in dire need of repairs that have been neglected the past 20 years. Unfortunately, we had to get a loan to pay for the upgrades. Fortunately, we have built the expenses into our budget and we may use the sale of the elementary school to help pay down the debt. We still pay over $70,000 per year to pay off our 2008 QZAB loan. Revenues from the sale of the elementary school will pay off the QZAB loan and put us in a position to purchase property for expansion of our school district and Agriculture Program, to operate a Student Run Farm Business. I love ou

r growth, but after building a new elementary school we are still at full capacity. With the addition of TEACH North West Charter school (TNW) we have increased our enrollment to 500 students! In 2014 Marcola School District had an enrollment of 195 students.


Meeting the Physical, intellectual, social and emotional needs of ALL students

Digital Media students setting up equipment
Digital Media students set up a live broadcast of the Lane County Commissioners Forum, hosted at Marcola Elementary School.

The staff and administration at Marcola School District have a strong desire to put systems in place that will support ALL students learning well, without the loss of enthusiasm for learning. Therefore, Marcola School District embraces Trauma Informed Practices/Instruction in and out of the classroom. Research shows that nearly every school has children who have been exposed to overwhelming experiences, such as witnessing violence between their caretakers, being the direct targets of abuse, and other kinds of adversity. Let’s add those who are chronically bullied at school and at home, those who experience periods of homelessness, undergo multiple invasive medical procedures or live with a traumatized parent – the number of children affected by significant adversity grows even larger. Trauma is not an event itself, but rather a response to one or more overwhelmingly stressful events where our student’s ability to cope is dramatically undermined. These experiences can lead to a cascade of intellectual, social, emotional and physical difficulties – such as substance abuse, poor attendance, and poor behavior at school. MSD does not believe in kicking kids to the curb when they make a mistake. Our goal is to find the root causes for a child’s behavior and work with the parents to identify the problem and come up with solutions. Please know, we will not suspend or expel students for behaviors that we feel (after a full investigation) does not present a danger to other staff and students.

Student training for tractor certification
This student demonstrates her skill and knowledge to meet the standards and core competencies to earn her license to drive a tractor.

Our goal is to work with families and students to help both succeed on the path to a K-12 education/diploma. The Marcola School District is committed to creating learning environments where all students grow academically and have multiple opportunities in multiple ways to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. We believe that a proficiency-based instruction and flexible assessment model is the best approach to meet this commitment. A written test is only one small indicator of measuring what students know and can do in relationship to learning targets and expectations. Our focus is always on improvement, we use our local formative assessments (many of which are actual performances in the classroom) as the best measurement of student growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.


Staff meet with Lane ESD Administration
Administrators from Lane Education Service District visited Marcola to see our CTE programs in action. Mr. Rice demonstrates a few of his Construction/Math assessments. Students (literally) have to show they understand and can use the math standards as applied in a Career Tech Environment. Construction Math is equivalent to an Algebra/Geometry course.

Due to the support of our community, our school board, staff and students, Marcola School District is known as a very innovative district providing instructional programs that are engaging and thoughtful to the needs of all learners. The addition of Five Career Tech Programs of Study (Agriculture, Engineering, Construction, Health Occupations, and next year – Computer Science) provides our students numerous opportunities to learn skills for a wide variety of occupations beyond high school. Very proud of our Robotics and FFA students for always representing the Marcola community with pride and respect as they travel to state, national and world competitions. Although we have made huge improvements in the last four years, we will never be perfect, and therefore we will always be striving for excellence in a continuous improvement model.

If you are currently enrolled in the Marcola School District we hope you are satisfied with the results of the last 4 years. Whether you are or not, we always appreciate your feedback to help us continue our goal of striving for excellence. For more information on our school district or to add comments and suggestions please access our website at, our Facebook site at Our web-site also has the calendar you need to show upcoming events. As you browse our website, we would appreciate any suggestions or comments in regards to improving the MSD website to become the one stop shop for any and all information about MSD. Send me an email at or call the school district at 541-933-2512.

Thank you community, staff and students for working together as a team to make tremendous progress toward creating an excellent school district.

Bill Watkins
Marcola School District