BEND, Ore. - Two new, small high schools are coming to Bend next school year. Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson made the announcement at a school board meeting Tuesday evening.
The district's enrollment has increased by 300 students each year for 30 years. Just last year, the school population grew by 500.
To help with capacity, the district expects to open a new large high school in the 2020-2121 school year, but until that time, two new, smaller high schools will open next year.
Both of the programs will be available to all students. Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist said they're hoping to start with 300 students between the two programs. Several alternatives were analyzed for their location.
"Superintendent Mikalson has determined the best alternative is to use leased space, even when the new high school is built, and continue to monitor the success of these small high school programs," Nordquist said. "And ultimately, purchasing an existing building or building a new school specifically for those programs is possible in the future."
Nordquist said the plans reflect an alternative approach to education.
One of the programs will be an E-L education high school, similar to Realms Middle School. The other school will be an innovation entrepreneurship high school. Nordquist said specific details about these programs will be released this fall.
As of now, bus transportation will not be offered, due to a lack of bus drivers.
Nonetheless, the district believes in the idea of these schools.
"They increase opportunities for our students, and as Shay Mikalson says, 'Design to the edges,' so we want to think about programming that works for every student," Nordquist said. "I'm excited, because I think this will increase opportunities for more students and engage more students with all kinds of learning styles and interests."