BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Community College Board will hold a special meeting at noon, Monday, to discuss a proposal that would remove northern Lake County from the school’s district. "This has never happened before; let’s start with that," COCC’s Ron Paradis tells KBND News. He says the college has been talking with a group from the Fort Rock and Christmas Valley areas for about a year. "It’s not a surprise, right now. President Metcalf has had a couple of meetings with a couple of residents of north Lake County about some of their thoughts." The leader of the petition told the Klamath Falls Herald and News there is a lack of demand for COCC, in the northern park of Lake County.
"We knew they were working on this process and going to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission with their concerns," says Paradis. Two members of that commission, known as HECC, will hold a public hearing in Silver Lake, Monday evening. "If they decide to support the petition then it does have to go through the Oregon Legislature for final approval."
If the request is approved, the school would lose some tax revenue, "We collect property taxes, of course, from the residents of the district. Each year, from the part of Lake County that’s in our district, we get about $100,000 toward operations; and their obligation on the bond is about $20,000 per year." It also would mean students from Fort Rock and Christmas Valley would pay 40% higher tuition, as out-of-district students. And, they would lose out on additional financial assistance, "Each year, at least one North Lake (High School) student gets a merit scholarship, worth $1,500 per year. And, in the last five years, four students have earned Foundation Scholarships that are worth $4,000 a year; and those would no longer be available to residents of Lake County." Although, Paradis admits, it doesn't impact a large number of families, "Of their high school graduating class, which is usually between 10-20 students, we get an average of about three each year from North Lake." Paradis says when the school was developed in 1962, voters in northern Lake County unanimously approved inclusion in the district (29-0).
Paradis admits this is uncharted territory; a similar request was made in the 80s, but it didn't go this far. HECC will take written comment through mid-September and is likely to consider the issue at its October meeting. If the Commission approves the petition, it would go to lawmakers in the 2019 Legislature.