Local grad rate increases, but still lags behind state average

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Data error shows Siuslaw with inaccurate rate

The rate of graduation at Siuslaw High School increased between 2014 and 15. The Oregon Department of Education released figures on all schools in the state this week and it appeared that Siuslaw’s rate had actually gone down. But, according to Superintendent Ethel Angal, two critical errors were not corrected in time and the local rate, while still below the statewide average, actually went up by just under three percentage points.

The latest average is 71.5 percent of students over a four year period. Oregon’s average is 73.8.

Angal says the local increase is because of a concerted effort by the staff and administration at Siuslaw to keep kids in school through the 12th grade. That’s something they’ll continue she added.

Ethel Angal – “Starting at freshman year students are tracked, you know on paper and by counselors and by teachers and the administration. They are monitored on several factors and then tiered interventions are put in place for students that begin to struggle.”

Those interventions include matching students up with adults and peers for tutoring and one-on-one counseling; Keeping parents and students updated on their progress regularly; and giving more access to teachers before and after school… even on weekends and during breaks.

Health Insurer under state supervision

One of Oregon’s largest private health insurers is now under state supervision. The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services… D-C-B-S… has taken control of all financial decisions made by Moda Health Plans because of concerns over the company’s financial conditions.

DCBS is also working with Moda to transfer individual market plans to another carrier. The order prohibits Moda from issuing new policies or renewing current policies on the individual market; as well as from adding new groups.

The agency took action because of Moda’s excessive operating losses and inadequate capital. DCBS director Patrick Allen said it is his primary goal to protect consumers. He said Moda customers can continue to access medical services and get their claims paid.

Lawmakers in Salem, preparing for session

The five week “even-year” legislative session gets underway Monday morning in Salem and lawmakers are geared up to get to work.

Governor Kate Brown laid out her legislative policies this week. They include a move to increase Oregon’s minimum wage; continued creation of what she calls a “seamless system of education”; and improving the economy in all areas of the state.

Dozens of bills have already been readied for introduction.

Lawmakers switched to annual sessions in 2011 after voter approval of a Constitutional Amendment. Previously they met only in odd-numbered years with special sessions called when needed.

Rhody Royalty announced

Members of three royalty courts that will preside over the 109th Rhododendron Festival in May have been announced. The Senior Court will return to being a female only entity. It will consist of three students from Siuslaw High School… Juniors Taylor Coolidge and Hanna Anderson, along with senior Lyndsey Keppol (kepple).

This year there will be two junior courts… the traditional girls court consists of 1st grader Rhealeigh (RAY-lee) Dascher; 2nd grader Riley Selig, 4th grader Kristin Wall, and Sunshine Armer from the 5th grade. Those four are from Siuslaw; Lexis Flandsberg is from Mapleton where she’s in the 3rd grade.

A new boys’ junior court will join the festival this year. All are from Siuslaw, they are 1st grader Tony Garcia Galvan; Roman Meadows is in the 2nd grade; Chance Jones is a 3rd grader; Cort Waggoner is in the 4th; and Kenji Tanikawa is in the 5th grade.

The 109th Rhododendron Festival is May 20th through the 22nd.

Kiwanis announces candy sale

The Florence Kiwanis annual Valentine See’s Candy Sale gets underway Monday. They’ll be set up at Sears in Florence Monday through Saturday from 9 to 6, then Sunday February 7th between noon and three. Then again the following week until Valentine’s Day or they run out.

Jean Murphey organizes the sale. She says they will offer several valentine specialties in addition to one and two pound boxes left over from Christmas. It’s still fresh, but will be – quote – “heavily discounted”.

The See’s Candy Fundraiser for Florence Kiwanis helps support several community programs.

Railing work to cause Umpqua delays

Drivers on Highway 101 crossing the Umpqua River at Reedsport will once again face delays. Crews will begin work February 8th on a project to replace the bridge railings. The Oregon Department of Transportation says the existing rails, in place since the bridge was completed 80 years ago, are damaged and substandard.

The work will require flaggers to control traffic at times during the work and sidewalks will be closed.

Last fall work wrapped up on a 18-month long project that painted the steel section of the bridge, requiring one lane travel 24-hours a day for several months.

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