Crook County

Powell Butte Charter School thrives in new life

Community comes together; school like a family

Success story: Powell Butte Charter School

POWELL BUTTE, Ore. - In 2010, the Crook County School District had to close its school in Powell Butte because of budget cuts.

But the community said "not so fast" -- and now it's thriving as a charter school.

The big day came quicker than anyone thought it could.

"Finally gave us the keys, I will never forget it. The teachers came in, and we didn't quite realize that the school district had taken everything," Jackie Lafrenz, school administrator, said said Wednesday.

They lacked the basics, "There wasn't a desk, a chair, a copy machine -- and school was starting in two weeks," Lafrenz said.

But the community was determined to make it work.

"The very first day, I met all these people that said they will do anything they can to keep the school going," Lafrenz said.

The parents wanted their school. They love this school.

"You feel like family here," parent Shannon Lester said.

Even the kids agree.

"It was pretty much the whole community, we all stepped in," seventh-grader Riley Morgan said.

They saved a school that kids today never want to leave.

"I don't really know what other schools are like, but I'm positive they aren't as good as this one," seventh-grader Ellie Corwin said.

Powell Butte makes up a very small part of the Crook County School District's budget.

The principal says the first year, it cost $600,000 to keep the school alive. Since then, it has cost $1 million a year.

"You realize that as long as you have the kids and people who were passionate, the rest kept falling into place," Lafrenz said.

The school now has 186 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

"It's really nice just to know everyone. You're like a family, pretty much," Corwin said.

The school added a middle school in recent years, which did not exist in the building for more than 50 years.

"I love this school. I wouldn't want to go to any other school," Morgan said.

Thanks to the passionate Powell Butte community—it looks like they won't have to.

"I like this school a lot, because of all the kind people," fourth-grader Rachel Lester said. "It's a great place to be."

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