School District launching new forum series

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home School District this month will introduce a new series of forums to increase connections among the district, community and parents.

“The goal is to inform and empower parents and families on a variety of topics,” said Supt. Tom Yahraes. The Community Connections forum will be held once per trimester or quarter and focus on topics that district officials know parents, community members and administrators talk about.

Topics will range widely, Yahraes said. Examples include drugs and alcohol, mental health, nutrition and fitness, cyber bullying, curriculum, early childhood learning, college and career readiness, technology and learning how to get kids unplugged, program opportunities, beyond the classroom, facilities and bond updates and engaging children in school work.

The first Community Connections, scheduled May 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the Sweet Home High School library, will focus on school safety.

“We chose the topic of school safety for the first forum as it is the No. 1 concern across the state and nation,” Yahraes said.

The goal is to provide information, Yahraes said, and to gather feedback from the public and families.

“We haven’t done a community connections forum,” Yahraes said. What district officials have done are purposeful forums aimed at specific topics of interest to the district to gather public input, such as the design plans for the Sweet Home Junior High School remodel, the bond measure that’s funding it or the strategic plan.

“As a superintendent, it’s been on my list of things to do,” Yahraes said. “As other work is getting done, I’m able to work on some of these community connections. It’s part of being a partner to our community. I’d rather be proactive in the community.”

Yahraes said he is looking at “different ways to communicate and connect.”

During the Community Connections forums, Yahraes plans to invite guest speakers, sometimes from elsewhere in the state, to discuss the topics on the agenda. For example, he is working with students from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest in Lebanon to help lead a planned forum on nutrition.

At the May 16 forum (see Yahraes’ message at the top of this page), School Resource Officer Geoff Hamlin and district staff will present the district’s Standard Response Protocols and Student Threat Assessment Team. The STAT team will discuss how the district assesses and provides safety plans when a student presents possible threats to themselves or others.

For more information about the Community Connections forums, call the superintendent’s office at (541) 367-7126.