Editorial: The cost of inaction in schools is higher | Notice

Helping Children Succeed in Schools Bend-La Pine just won an apparent victory from Deschutes County.

Deschutes County Budget Commission voted 4-2 on Friday to put in the county budget about $ 160,000 for a new partnership. The county would put health professionals in Bend-La Pine schools to work with students on health promotion and prevention. The county and school district would share the cost 50-50.

County Commissioners Patti Adair and Phil Chang voted for the Youth Success Partnership, as did two other members of the budget committee. What is more interesting are the two “no” votes. County commissioner Tony DeBone voted ‘no’, as did Bruce Barrett, another member of the budget committee.

DeBone and Barrett did not dispute that there are problems in schools that are not so much about teaching. Mental health is one of them. Deschutes County has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the state. The county rate is 18.9 suicides per 100,000. Substance abuse ranging from vaping to alcohol to marijuana is another. Again, youth in Deschutes County may have a higher tendency. Then there is teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In 2019, 25 young people aged 10 to 17 in the county became pregnant.

DeBone and Barrett thought the program might not be ready to go.

DeBone explained his vote to us by saying that he voted “no”, but he is not against the program. Now there’s an answer that might make you think you’ve landed in an MC Escher drawing. The way we understand this from our conversation with DeBone is that he had reservations that not enough work had already been done to develop the new program for him to approve the spending of money. He also raised concern about parental involvement. County officials mentioned parental involvement. They didn’t point it out.

Barrett had similar concerns. He too explained that he didn’t think there were enough details. He and other members of the budget committee were disturbed that no specific metrics were identified to measure program performance.

“I feel like it was just kind of a patchwork presentation to kick off this thing, so they can spend some CAT tax and I just don’t feel like the program is there,” he said. Barrett said.

The CAT tax reference concerns the new Corporation tax. This could earn schools around $ 1 billion a year. We don’t know how Barrett meant this stunt about the CAT tax, although we don’t think it would be fair to suggest that the district organize something quickly just to spend the money. Suicide, drug addiction and teenage pregnancy are serious problems in schools.

The real problem would be if the school district and county weren’t willing to try something new, didn’t want to risk a new program to address these issues which are more acute here and threaten to destroy the ability of students. students to be successful. If everyone on the county budget committee voted like DeBone and Barrett, this is where the county would be.

As Nahad Sadr-Azodi, Director of Public Health for Deschutes County, said, “If we think the cost of this program is high, the cost of inaction is greater.


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About Rhonda Lee

Rhonda Lee

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