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District plans informational forums on proposed bond

Hermiston School District will hold a community forum to share district accomplishments, information on student growth challenges, safety and security concerns, an overview of aging infrastructure and facts about the proposed 2017 bond.

Three sessions are scheduled for Friday, March 10, in the Hermiston School District Boardroom, to accommodate different work schedules. The forums will begin at 7 a.m., 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Translation services will be available.

All who are interested in learning about the different aspects of the bond, or who have questions, comments or concerns are encouraged to attend.

By |02/24/2017 11:32:54|District News|0 Comments

Economic impact analysis completed for proposed bond

Hermiston School District commissioned Elesco Limited of Bend, Ore., to provide an economic impact analysis of the district’s proposed $104 million construction bond. The 10-year analysis utilized the current proposed construction budget, which totals more than $108 million, inclusive of the potential state matching grant funds.

According to the study, a total of 540 direct sub-contractors are expected to be used over the four-year construction phase, resulting in over $24 million in direct labor income. In addition to the direct income, an additional 250 jobs are expected to be created, as a result of indirect and induced effects, bringing total construction labor income for the projects in excess of $34 million.

The remaining $83 million project budget is expected to be utilized to purchase capital construction materials and supplies. Based upon Elesco’s use of the nationally recognized IMPLAN model, Umatilla County is said to be approximately 75 percent self-sufficient in the construction sector, and it imports about 25 percent of commodities through trade with other counties. This means that approximately $63 million in district construction-related purchases is expected to remain in the local Umatilla County economy.

In addition to the construction cost, the district expects to increase employment by approximately 95 individuals, 20 of which would be directly related to the construction. While payroll costs will be escalating, other operating, maintenance, repairs and overhead expenditures are expected to see only slight increases, primarily due to the new buildings being more efficient and requiring less repairs. The district saw significant savings in maintenance, repairs and overhead from the schools built during the 2008 school bond.

Combined, the analysis reveals that, over the ten-year time span, the district is expected to spend nearly $187 million on new construction related purchases, over 78 percent more than the original community bond request.

By |02/17/2017 7:50:32|District News|0 Comments

2 Hr. Delay – Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hermiston Schools are on a 2-hour delay today, Thursday, February 9. Rocky Heights– morning ABLE class is canceled.

Las escuelas de Hermiston comenzarán 2 horas más tarde, hoy jueves, 9 de febrero. La clase ABLE que sucede en la mañana, en Rocky Heights se cancela.

By |02/09/2017 5:13:58|District News|0 Comments

National School Counseling Week, February 6-10, 2017

Hermiston School District acknowledges the work of its school counselors during National School Counseling Week, February 6-10, 2017.

National School Counseling Week is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to focus public attention to the unique contribution of professional school counselors within U.S. school systems.

School counselors are a vital part of the total educational program, as they work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing each student’s academic concerns. They work in partnership with parents, as they encounter the challenges of raising children in today’s world, focusing on positive ways to enhance students’ social/personal, educational and career development, and they work with teachers and other educators to provide an educational system where students can realize their potential and set healthy, realistic, and optimistic aspirations for themselves.

School counselors are certified, experienced educators that help students with conflict resolution, and they help students and families by connecting them to other agencies that can help meet their food, housing needs, or other challenges the family or student may be facing.

At the high school level, counselors create career awareness in post-secondary options by taking students on college visits, educating students and families on the Federal Student Aid Form, informing students on scholarship opportunities, monitoring students so they are on track for graduation, and assisting students with personal/social skills, to name a few of the many things they do help students succeed.

Counselors are also the first people contacted when schools face a student/staff loss or a crisis. They provide emotional support during difficult times.

Meet the district’s outstanding counselors:

  • Meghan Rahm serves students at Desert View Elementary
  • Liz Morgan serves students at Highland Hills Elementary
  • Shanna Herman serves students at Rocky Heights Elementary
  • Tina Crowell serves students at Sunset Elementary
  • Deb Sprong serves students at West Park Elementary
  • Lore Martin serves students at Armand Larive Middle School
  • Rick Scheibner serves students at Sandstone Middle School
  • Melody Bustillos serves students at Hermiston High School
  • Cristina Cuevas serves students at Hermiston High School
  • Maggie Hughes-Boyd serves students at Hermiston High School
  • Kristine Martin serves students at Hermiston High School

These are the individuals making a difference in the students’ success. For more general information on School Counseling Week visit www.schoolcounselor.org.

By |02/07/2017 3:06:23|District News|0 Comments

District saddened by student’s death

The Hermiston School District learned of very sad news concerning a student. The Hermiston Police Department informed Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fred Maiocco of the death of Brok Palmer, a senior at Hermiston High. Brok leaves behind siblings at Desert View and Armand Larive.

The school district will provide support for staff and students during this difficult time, at Hermiston High School and Armand Larive Middle School.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends affected by this tragedy.

By |02/06/2017 11:03:30|District News|0 Comments

February 15 is School Exclusion Day

Hermiston School District reminds families that School Exclusion Day is Wednesday, February 15, meaning if a child does not meet the state requirements for immunizations, or if the school’s student record on file shows missing immunizations, he/she will not be able to attend school or child care starting Feb. 15. The student will be admitted back in school once the immunizations are brought up-to-date.

State law requires that all children in public and private schools, preschools, certified child care facilities and Head Start have up-to-date documentation on the students’ immunizations or a medical or non-medical exemption to stay enrolled.

The Umatilla County Public Health Department in Hermiston will be open on Saturday, February 11, from 9 am to 2 pm to offer immunizations. No appointment is necessary. If families are unable to attend, other options include:

  • Umatilla County Public Health Department, Hermiston, (541) 567-3113
    (Thursday and Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm),
  • Umatilla County Public Health Department, Pendleton, (541) 278-5432
    (Monday-Wednesday, 8 am to 5pm)
  • Mirasol Family Health Center, Hermiston, (541) 567-1717
    (Monday-Friday, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm)
  • Gifford Medical Center, Hermiston, (541) 567-2995
    (Wednesday only from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for those that carry regular insurance)
  • Family Health Associates, Hermiston, (541) 567-6434
    (Monday-Thursday, 7:40 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday, 7:40 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
  • Through a primary care physician.

Pharmacists at Bi-Mart, Safeway, and Rite Aid can immunize children 7 years of age and older. Parents should contact their pharmacy of choice for more information.

“The school district recognizes that immunizations are essential in keeping children healthy and preventing disease,” said Kira Tomlinson, the district’s lead nurse. “It is important that kids are immunized; so that they don’t miss school and can get the most of their educational experience.” “We encourage parents to update school staff whenever there is a change in their child’s immunization record.”

For additional information visit:

By |01/31/2017 2:36:54|District News|0 Comments

HHS outperforms state graduation rate

On Thursday, January 26, 2017, the Oregon Department of Education released the graduation cohort and dropout rate data for all public school districts in Oregon. Results show Hermiston High School exceeded the state average in graduation rates.

According to the Oregon Department of Education, this graduation data looks at the students who entered high school as ninth graders in 2012-13 and then graduated with a regular high school diploma within four years. Data for 2015-16 shows the state holds a 74.8 percent four-year graduation rate for the 2012-13 cohort. Hermiston High School holds an 87.6 percent graduation rate. For the same cohort of students, Hermiston High School holds an 88.73 completer rate, which includes students who earned an extended or adult high school diploma, and students who earned a GED, in addition to the students who earned a standard diploma (graduates) as completers. The State of Oregon cohort completer rate was 78.1.

The results are further broken down by subgroups, which show the district boasts the highest five-year cohort completer rate in the state for Hispanic students at 91.5 percent, among districts with sizable Hispanic populations. Hermiston High School holds the second highest four-year cohort graduation (82.3) and completer (83.1) rates for Hispanic students.

The cohort graduation rate is calculated by taking the number of students in the group who graduated with a regular diploma within four years and dividing that by the total number of students who entered high school for that cohort, in this case 2012-2013. The figure is adjusted for students who move into or out of the system, emigrate to another country, or are deceased, to form the adjusted cohort.

Because some students need more than four years to complete graduation requirements, the Oregon Department of Education also calculates five-year graduation and completion rates. HHS’s five-year cohort graduation rate for ALL students was 93.1, compared to the state’s 77.8. The Hermiston High School five-year cohort completer rate was 94.25 for the 2011-12 cohort, while the state rate was 81.9.

The Innovative Learning Center in past school years was home to the alternative program for HSD; it was designed for students who are not able to complete the requirements for graduation in four years with a standard instructional day. Graduation and completion rates for ILC are included in Hermiston School District aggregate data, which notes a five-year cohort completer rate of 78.8, which is below the state average of 81.9.

Beginning this school year, the ILC was absolved into Hermiston High School to provide prescriptive courses of study for students who are not able to complete the requirements for graduation in four years with a standard instructional day.

View the graduation rates, including by district, on the ODE website.

By |01/26/2017 7:49:18|District News|0 Comments

Tom Spoo, 2016-17 Administrator of the Year

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fred Maiocco revealed Hermiston High School Principal Tom Spoo as the 2016-17 Administrator of the Year at the board of education meeting last night.

The administrator of the year is someone who supports the growth of others, is dedicated to the cause and goes above and beyond without being asked. Tom Spoo exemplifies these attributes.

Tom SpooTom’s dedication and commitment was obvious when he began to build his team at Hermiston High School. Individuals purposely applied for jobs at HHS to join his team. In moving to the high school, he fully embraced the challenge of Vision 2025 and quickly communicated ‘students’ success and learning’ as the number one priority.

In his second year, Tom tailored his leadership team to support each aspect of Vision 2025, building bridges within the community and strengthening teaching and learning not only at HHS but other schools within the district. He believes strongly in collaboration and ‘putting people in the right place.’ Seeing the CTE programs thrive is evidence of his foresight.

Tom is a people person, which is evident when one tries to go anywhere with him. One needs to plan extra time; so, he can talk to everyone he knows along the way! His personal approach, dedication to excellence, and foresight are what has supported his success. A team player who values the contributions of those around him, Tom shows great care for his staff and students, which is both sincere and respected. His personality and sense of humor allow him to make lasting impressions with all those around him

As a supervisor, administrative peer, or mentor, Tom’s drive continues to push his colleagues. He regularly checks in with fellow administrators to see how things are going or if they need anything. He offers support and advice, whether it is wanted or not. Because of this approach, he is someone to which his colleagues can turn and ask for advice, knowing they will get honest and to the point feedback.

As a fellow principal said, “What is an administrator of the year? I believe it is someone who encourages others to be successful and supports the necessary tools for growth in students and staff. Tom is just that, and I am lucky and proud to have been able to work with such a great person and leader.”

Tom Spoo has worked for the Hermiston School District for 23 years. For 13 years he was an Ag Teacher at HHS, where he moved to assistant principal for the next four years. Then, he served as Armand Larive Middle School principal for four years, and for the last two years he has served as HHS principal.

By |01/24/2017 9:20:02|District News|0 Comments

District explores joining Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, Mid-Columbia League

Hermiston School District is exploring the possibility of joining Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), by the fall of 2018.

Hermiston School District is facing a challenge as Hermiston High School’s enrollment continues to increase. The growth will move HHS to the state’s highest classification in the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA). This brings up the issue that there are no similarly sized high schools within 175 miles of Hermiston for competition.

The high school currently has 1560 students, and it is expected to grow to over 1600 by the fall of 2018. Moving up a classification means HHS would join a conference of eight to ten teams, each outside of a reasonable commuting distance, meaning up to nine trips to the Portland area, with over 175 travel miles each way in one season.

Oregon uses a Rated Percentage Index (RPI) system, which forces the high school to schedule non-conference games within state or same classification opponents. “This could increase the school’s travel costs by up to 60 percent, and students could miss up to 30 percent of their classes in a given month for their athletic events, which is unacceptable,” said Director of Athletics and Activities Larry Usher.

Several advantages arise if the Hermiston School District is permitted to join the Mid-Columbia League.

  • Reduced time away from instruction for the student athletes;
  • Games would be against schools within close geographic proximity, resulting in savings to travel budgets;
  • An increase to playoff allocations for the league if HHS is added;
  • HHS would offer the WIAA outstanding facilities, especially in track and field, soccer, and football as Kennison Field is a NCAA conforming stadium.

“I believe we are still facing an uphill battle with the WIAA, and we completely understand if they are hesitant,” said Usher. “Something new is not always easy for any group, but this is about our kids in Hermiston and this uphill battle is certainly worth it. We have the full support of every school across the river in the Mid-Columbia Conference and certainly hope that pulls some weight with their association.”

By |01/23/2017 3:08:17|District News|0 Comments

District announces 2016-17 educators and administrator of the year

Each year HSD also recognizes its outstanding teaching staff with the Educator of the Year Award. It is awarded annually to one educator from each of the elementary and middle schools, two educators from Hermiston High School, and one district-level educator. School staff members nominate coworkers from their respective schools for the honor. Nominees must have worked in the district for at least five years. The award is considered a “career-level” award that is granted only to the most deserving of educators.

This year’s recipients are:

Hermiston High School

Susie CobbSusie Cobb has taught at the high school for 14 years. She is dedicated to teaching not only content skills, but life skills that will help our students in the future. She effectively uses federal Perkins dollars to engage students in the necessary skills and practices that are occurring in the culinary industry.

Susie is a coach in the FCCLA program and works effectively with all students including minorities teaching invaluable skills that students will use long after their high school career is over. Susie is instrumental in helping and guiding students to achieve success at the state and national level in FCCLA.

Susie has an amazing Bulldog catering program that serves not only the school and its activities but our community. Her food and service is highly respected.

Ericka KeefauverEricka Keefauver has taught Language Arts for 15 years and has been a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for two years, primarily with the high school. She is an inspiration and huge help to a different set of students–the teachers!

She goes above and beyond to help out others in need from engagement strategies, sub plans, behavior management, to helping make posters! She is well spoken and works well with all staff members in all content areas. She is very knowledgeable about the science and art of teaching. Along with her TOSA duties, Ericka is on the high school Leadership Team and is heavily involved with the Hermiston Association of Teachers (HAT), Oregon Education Association (OEA), and Uniserv.

Armand Larive Middle School

Tate EnrightTate Enright has taught in the Hermiston School District for four years. He always looks for ways to better educate his students by creating strong relationships. Tate has been identified as one who connects with each and every one of his students.

Multiple curriculums have been thrown his way but he takes on the challenge with pride and honor. Tate has improved those around him by providing time to discuss ways to assist regular education teachers by providing methods, strategies and accommodations to meet student needs. His pleasant, helpful and constructive advice and insight is greatly appreciated by the staff.

One person shared, “Tate has been thrown more curveballs with his curriculum than many teachers. From adding subject areas to cover, to changing the format of an assignment, he works through it all with a quiet grace that speaks volumes to the rest of the staff.”

Sandstone Middle School

Kimo GabrielKimo Gabriel has taught in the Hermiston School District for 27 years. He is the linchpin of the SMS science program. He consistently inspires the students in his classroom to achieve high standards year after year through thoughtful, purposeful, and engaging lessons. His sense of humor and ability to banter back and forth with students allow him to truly tap into the heart of his students.

He works closely with his Jefferson teammates to help ensure students success. He has a sense of Sandstone’s building history that helps with decision making and in conversations about past-practices. Kimo’s legacy at Sandstone is not only the amazing program he helped build from the ground up but also his effort to share it so that it can continue for years’ to come. Kimo is truly our favorite secret ingredient.

Desert View Elementary School

Garth LindGarth Lind has taught in the Hermiston School District for 17 years. His practice has been a model for over 70 visiting educators from schools as close as Armand Larvie Middle School and as far away as Grandview, Washington over the last four years. In the last three years, 87% of students in his class have scored benchmark or above on the Science OAKS assessment, 21% above the state average. The average growth his students have shown on the Smarter Balanced assessment has been 55 points in Language Arts greatly outdistancing the expected 32 points of growth students are supposed to make during their fifth grade year. The students in Mr. Lind’s math class over the last three years have grown an average of 75 points while the expected growth is only 40.

Mr. Lind is not just a fantastic educator of children and colleagues, but he is also an avid learner. He continuously looks to learn from his peers. This effort to push his practice and constantly try to improve his already high level teaching skills serves as a model for all professionals to follow.

Highland Hills Elementary School

Mark DouglassMark Douglass has taught in the Hermiston School District for 30 years. Countless hours, creative songs and dance, a dedication to all students is just a small introduction to Highland’s educator of the Year!

Mr. Douglass has a passion to develop young people into strong adults providing the skills necessary to be a positive contributor to our community. Mr. Douglas has been instrumental in developing guidelines for recess and daily school operations to help support teachers and students alike. Through is 29 years of education Mr. Douglass has had the opportunity support the growth of many students and now to work with former students in the creation of curriculum and student productions.

Rocky Heights Elementary School

Jolene DavisJolene Davis has taught at Rocky Heights for 11 years.  Mrs. Davis is a dedicated teacher who inspires a love of learning in her students. The best practice is to lead by example and that’s what she does. Every hour, every minute, every second is a learning opportunity that is highlighted in Room 2. She sets high expectations for her students, yet they always rise to the challenge.  In all aspects of education, she is always professional. She makes herself knowledgeable of pedagogy and dedicates endless amounts of hours to increase the level of content delivered by not only herself, but her grade level team and the entire Rocky Heights Staff.

Ms. Davis is readily available to mentor those in need, whether it is parent conferences, instruction, or managing time as an educator. Her mentorship is truly an asset for this school. Mrs. Davis is an active participant in Rocky’s leadership team, is a member of the district Professional Development committee, and facilitates our school’s PD committee. This demonstrates her desire to ensure high quality instruction for Hermiston students.

Last year, Mrs. Davis made the jump from 2nd to 3rd grade. This was her first year in an intermediate grade and her first year with Smarter Balanced Assessments. In addition, she led a 3rd grade team comprised of herself and two teachers brand new to the profession. This would normally mean a dip in student achievement, however, assessment scores improved in both reading and math on the SBA year over year. This is a testament to her leadership and, now back in 2nd grade, she continues to be instrumental in supporting the professional needs of her teammates.

Sunset Elementary School

Joyce BarakJoyce Barak has taught in the Hermiston School District for 16 years. She utilizes her materials and focuses on student needs…she targets what is missing.  When a new program like Fast ForWord is introduced, she learns the program and maximizes it as a tool to assist her in ensuring the best learning opportunities for students.

Already this year, she has provided professional learning for the Sunset staff and others throughout the district.  Her excellence is also supported by student achievement data. For example, the 4th grade students she served in Title last year (often those that are two or more years behind in reading), passed the state assessment in Reading at the same rate as the average fourth grader in the state.  Her students averaged a 68-point growth (the average year to year pass score increases by 41 points).  Also, Joyce is always willing to support other teachers with ideas (brainstorming), help, or materials.  When we have our monthly read-ins, she does not just throw out the books and some coffee…she goes out of her way to make each event special…this effort results in an average monthly attendance of 170+ family members and students.  Last year, our Family Culture Night brought in over 500 students and family members.  In everything she does, Joyce puts others (staff, students and families) before herself.

West Park Elementary School

Margaret GutierrezMargaret Gutierrez has taught ELL and Spanish Reading at WPES for 9 years.  She has tremendous passion for our students and families at WPES.  She often goes out of her way to contact parents before and after school and on weekends to brag about their kids or to communicate about their child’s academic and social needs.  In addition, Margaret is very involved with our Hispanic community.  She works with families of our school aged children through “Abriendo Puertas” or “Opening Doors” – a HeadStart program, designed to teach families how to navigate the school system. In addition to this, Margaret runs an after school intervention program for ELL students that need additional interventions and help.  Margaret is a tremendous asset to our students, families and staff and WPES and well deserving of this “Educator of the Year” award.


Linda WhiteLinda White has taught in the Hermiston School District for 17 years. Linda is truly dedicated to the craft of teaching. As a highly effective and successful classroom teacher at Sunset, she was sought after for advice and tips on how to better engage students and effectively present instruction.

She was approached to be an instructional coach for the Ed Services department. Linda did not take this request lightly and actually struggled leaving the classroom setting! However, after much thought, Linda realized she could have a greater impact at the district level, assisting teachers across the district.

Working at the district level as a coach, Linda values working collaboratively with her coaching peers and district teachers.

Linda is a phenomenal educator. The many students and teachers she comes in contact with all over Hermiston benefit from her massive expertise, creativity and passion for high levels of learning. Linda takes care of all, the teachers she mentors, the students she teaches, and the coaches she partners with. Hermiston School District is fortunate to have an educator like her in their ranks.

The educators and administrator of the year will be recognized at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Citizens Awards banquet scheduled for February 1, 2017.

By |01/23/2017 2:19:35|District News|0 Comments