Friday, May 27, 2016

Tiny Oregon school district invites Portland students to spend semester learning about rural life

A tiny rural school district in Eastern Oregon has invited Portland students to spend a semester in Unity (Best Places map) to learn about agriculture and science, Eric Mortenson reports for EO Media Group, which owns 11 newspapers in the Pacific Northwest. Burnt River School, which has 34 students in grades K-12, only has one building. Lorrie Andrews, district superintendent, principal, teacher and career and yearbook adviser, said the move is meant to bridge the state's rural-urban divide. Burnt River is one of the state's smallest districts; Portland is the largest, with 49,000 students in 78 schools.

Andrews told Mortenson, “We were thinking there probably are students out there who would enjoy a rural experience and a small-school experience at the same time. I think it’s a way to bridge that divide. I think there are a lot of misconceptions in both directions. I think we can all learn from one another. Kids are usually open to that.”

The school's entire K-12 student body and staff
Eight students will visit in the fall and another eight in spring 2017, Mortenson writes. "Portland students will get a semester of hands-on learning in what Burnt River describes as a 'variety of natural resource settings.' They’ll learn about animal production science, sustainable rangeland science and forest restoration studies, and do water quality monitoring with the Powder Basin Watershed Council." The move will also help Burnt River School's budget, with the Oregon Department of Education paying school districts a standard per-student amount of $7,100; Burnt River will get credit for the Portland students.

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