Bend-La Pine Schools Comprehensive Strategic Plan

Our Promise

Bend-La Pine Schools strategic plan is built upon a simple but profound promise:

Every student in Bend-La Pine Schools is known by name, strengths, and needs, and graduates ready for college, career and citizenship.

To make this promise real for each and every one of our students, Bend-La Pine Schools is redefining the way we resource, support, teach, and take responsibility for our students in order to ensure they have the skills and knowledge they need to not only participate in the global economy, but to lead it. We expect our students to create new businesses and non-profit organizations, to bring new vitality to existing services and enterprises, to invent new products and processes and to create new opportunities for others around the world.

We are continually refining school and classroom practices to ensure the success of diverse learners. We are measuring progress and success in ways that provide real-time support to our students. And, we are creating options within our system for students and their families, ensuring them access to learning environments that help all students reach their full potential.

While our promise is clear and our progress certain, there is a long road ahead. Thanks to the commitment and hard work of our educators, students, families, and community partners, Bend-La Pine Schools is building upon our past successes to ensure that each and every one of our students graduates capable of creating a future by design, not default.

To learn more about why the Bend-La Pine Schools Promise matters, please watch the following:

Shay Mikalson, Superintendent

Our District

Bend-La Pine Schools

  • 5th largest school district in Oregon
  • 33 schools and 2 charter schools
  • 18,500 students
  • 40% economically disadvantaged
  • Over 20 languages spoken (Spanish being the predominant second language)
  • 1,934 staff members (2nd largest employer in central Oregon)
  • 1,700 square miles serving the communities of Bend, La Pine, and Sunriver

Academic Success

  • More than 1,200 students graduated from our high schools in 2019
  • $8 million in scholarships were earned by the Class of 2019
  • Average SAT score was almost 100 points higher than the national average
  • Class of 2019 earned more than 9,400 college quarter hour credits while in high school
  • Highest graduation rate in Bend-La Pine Schools history
  • Home of the Oregon Teacher of the Year, Librarian of the Year, School Nurse of the Year, Oregon Administrator of the Year, Milken Educator of the Year, and numerous Presidential Award winners in Math and Science

Our Community

Bend-La Pine Schools is located in Deschutes County in the heart of Oregon. Our 33 schools and 2 charter schools serve three distinct communities: Bend, Sunriver and La Pine. Nestled at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range, our district borders the alpine forest and the high desert.

Deschutes County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the state of Oregon, offers abundant year-round recreational activities. The scenery is breathtaking. Many points of interest lie within the county's boundaries.

La Pine is located 30 miles south of Bend. Four schools serve the close-knit community: La Pine Elementary, Rosland Elementary, La Pine Middle School and La Pine High School.

The Sunriver area includes Fall River and Spring River. Three Rivers School serves students K-8. Students from this area continue to either Bend or La Pine schools for high school.

Bend, the largest of the communities within the district, includes 16 elementary schools, 2 K-8 schools, 6 middle schools and 6 high schools.

Our Board of Directors

Seven community members make up the Bend-La Pine Schools Board of Directors. Registered voters elect board members for terms of four years. The school board has governance responsibilities in four areas: vision, accountability, policy and advocacy. The school board believes that effective public school education must be directed toward common needs of all children and must also consider the unique differences and needs of individual children.

It is the board’s role to set policy, develop clear expectations for results, and to evaluate progress. The board has empowered the district leadership team, led by the superintendent, to carry out the district’s daily operations in alignment with policies and expectations, to pursue short- and long-term goals, and to resolve issues that arise along the way. This allows the board to maintain a system-wide focus and supports an appropriate distinction between policy and administration.

If you would like to bring positive feedback, questions or concerns to the school board’s attention, there are a variety of ways your voice can be heard. You can attend a school board meeting and share your thoughts during the public comment section of the meeting. You can submit a message to the school board’s Listening Post, which is an electronic communication directly to the full board and superintendent. Board members also share their direct phone numbers for personal conversations, and you can always send a letter to the school board at 520 NW Wall Street, Bend, Oregon 97703. The school board is committed to open governance and transparent communication that includes listening to stakeholders, students, staff, parents/families and community members.

Community engagement is a vital part of our school district’s success. Community members who have feedback or concerns for the school district (regarding operations) or school board (regarding policy) are encouraged to contact the person closest to the situation first to have their issue addressed most effectively and efficiently. Click here to learn who to contact and how.

Below is a current roster of board members listed by zone.

Caroline Skidmore (Zone 1): Click here to learn more about Caroline Skidmore.

Julie Craig (Zone 2): Click here to learn more about Julie Craig.

Shimiko Montgomery (Zone 3): Click here to learn more about Shimiko Montgomery.

Dr. Stuart Young (Zone 4): Click here to learn more about Dr. Stuart Young.

Amy Tatom (Zone 5): Click here to learn more about Amy Tatom.

Melissa Barnes Dholakia (Zone 6): Click here to learn more about Melissa Barnes Dholakia.

Carrie Douglass (Zone 7): Click here to learn more about Carrie Douglass.

Our Goals

This strategic plan challenges us, as a community, to embrace bold goals for every child in Bend-La Pine Schools. It is driven by our deep belief in our students’ abilities and by their own aspirations for their future. Beginning with the end in mind, Bend-La Pine Schools' vision of future-ready graduates encompasses the knowledge, skills, dispositions and character our learners will possess as they leave high school.

Bend-La Pine Schools: Portrait of a Future-Ready Graduate

This defined profile of a Bend-La Pine graduate allows our vision to come alive for our students, parents, staff, and greater community we serve. Our vision moves beyond words and sentences painted on school buildings to a tangible set of eight measurable outcomes, established by Bend-La Pine Schools' Board of Directors:

Academic Excellence

1. Bend-La Pine Schools students’ academic achievement will show continuous improvement in English Language Arts (Reading & Writing), Mathematics and Science and the percent of 9th grade students on-track to graduate

2. Bend-La Pine Schools annual progress in eliminating the achievement gap for all students will show continuous improvement in English Language Arts (Reading & Writing), Mathematics and Science and the percent of 9th grade students on-track to graduate

3. Bend-La Pine Schools students' on-time 4-year cohort graduation rate will show continuous improvement.

Thriving Citizen

4. Bend-La Pine Schools students’ will show continuous improvement in the demonstration of the essential skills and attributes of hope and engagement.

5. Bend-La Pine Schools students’ participation in extra and co-curricular activities will increase annually.

Future Ready

6. Bend-La Pine Schools students’ successful participation in advanced, career and technical, arts, world-language, and post-secondary courses shall increase annually.

7. Bend-La Pine Schools students’ will show continuous improvement in the demonstrated use of the essential 21st Century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration.

8. Bend-La Pine Schools students' shall show continuous advancement in the number of graduates entering 2- or 4-year colleges after graduation; college quarter credit hours while in high school; and the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) completers.

Our Strategies

Goals are realized only through action. Aligning of our vision of a graduate to resources, time, and activities is key to delivering on Bend-La Pine Schools' promise. Our strategic priorities, listed below, shape our roadmap of progress and enable us to focus our resources on what matters most.


  • Enhance our efforts to recruit, develop and retain effective teachers for every school with incentives and supports that reward teachers for effective instruction and ongoing professional learning.
  • Continue to increase the quality and rigor of classroom curriculum and instruction through a deep implementation of grade-level content standards and best practices in instructional strategies.
  • Promote adult understanding of responsive educational practices and universal design for learning principles in order to support each and every student.
  • Continue to improve teacher support systems, including feedback and coaching loops, curriculum resources, instructional technology and professional learning.
  • Grow educators' skills and knowledge in both informal and formal assessment strategies and systems.


  • Attract, develop and retain strong, values-based leaders who demonstrate a commitment to the growth and success of each and every student.
  • Develop strong pipelines for leadership, including internal cultivation, school leader preparation programs and focused mentorships.
  • Continue to improve administrator support systems, including feedback and coaching loops, as well as ongoing professional learning.
  • Advance distributed instructional leadership structures in schools through developing and empowering teacher leaders.
  • Ensure school leaders are held accountable for the growth and success of all their students and for meeting the unique needs of their school communities.


  • Empower schools through flexible, school-based decision-making, including the use of resources.
  • Provide schools and teachers with opportunities to innovate and create environments that best meet the academic and social/emotional needs of their students.
  • Deliver differentiated supports for schools and classrooms based on need.


  • Maximize safety for students, staff, and the community.
  • Ensure physically and psychologically safe, secure, and orderly learning environments.
  • Build upon our foundation of prevention, intervention, emotional health and crisis preparedness.


  • Continue to create a district-wide culture built on absolute trust, excellence, open communication, strong relationships, celebration, and accountability.
  • Foster positive, empowering, and inclusive cultures in our schools that embrace all families and communities.
  • Grow partnerships and expand communications with our families, stakeholders, and community members.
  • Continue to be responsible and transparent with our community's resources.

Our Schools

Goals, strategies and action steps all combine to provide structure to comprehensive planning. However, it is how we lead, how we team, how we learn, how we communicate and how we build community in our schools that determines whether the smartest planning on any paper becomes real in the experiences of our students, families and educators. It is not enough to identify where we want to go and the steps we will take to get there. True leadership that seeks sustained results in any complex organization must prioritize around the question, “How do we do things here, together?”

Bend – La Pine Schools values three elements as critical to the successes and growth in any school. These elements are foundational to the culture of any school in BLS. Cultivating these cultural elements that answer the question, “How do we do things here, together?”, is the chief aim of school leaders. Supporting principals’ and their leadership teams’ efforts to operate culturally in these ways is perhaps the most important work for district leadership.

1. Design Thinking;

The first of these elements is design thinking. Design thinking is an approach to continuous improvement that actively seeks out opportunities to improve in areas of weakness and enhance in areas of strength. Beginning with a school community effort to identify a defining story, each school works through the elements of the design cycle to seek growth and press forward for each student in efforts unique and aligned to their story. Design thinking in schools calls on school leaders to be lead designers for their school communities. It is they who listen to all voices to empathize, identify challenges, ideate and prototype solutions and then gather feedback and reflect as they continue to lead their school design work. It is now clearer than ever that top-down program implementation is not the way forward in pursuit of Student B for every student in every school. Just as best teaching differentiates for the needs of different learners. Design thinking in the form of Bend – La Pine’s school design process, differentiates for different school communities. Empowering and supporting principals to engage with their school communities to continually fuel innovation in the context of design thinking provides the cultural context and systems approach for continual improvement that seeks more than just the next solution, instead building an engine geared towards addressing continuous challenges.

2. Schools as Learning Organizations; and

The second element that brings answer to the question, “How do we do things, here?”, is the concept of schools as learning organizations. Just as single solutions do not often solve challenges in multiple contexts, yesterday’s solutions often do not address today’s challenges. Meeting current challenges that come with a changing community and a changing social context requires schools to be nimble. The concept of continuous learning is a critical element of our culture in schools. School leaders and their teams must serve as “lead learners” in schools as they engage in designing for Student B. The traditional roles of teachers and school leaders must change as we learn how best to support students in today’s schools. “How we do things, here” must be always willing to learn in order to not be stuck in tradition and practices that no longer serve well. Purposeful, aligned, job-embedded, collegial professional learning is an important element in our schools.

3. Collective Genius.

Finally, “How we do things, here” hinges on the idea of collective genius. Individual teachers can be brilliant for the students in front of them at a given moment. However, working in teams of adults to build teacher efficacy across a school is the multiplier for great teaching. Collective genius requires that space be made for each voice. The work of school leaders is that of co-designing with staff, teachers, students and the community at large. Teaching and leading in schools now require adults to work effectively within teams to share ideas, challenge perceptions, analyze results and continue designing towards best outcomes for every student.

Bend – La Pine schools are not a collection identical student populations and staff teams. As such, programming in schools is not cookie-cutter. Rather, by harnessing the impact of a trio of elements: 1) Design thinking, 2) Learning organization, and 3) Collective genius, schools are continuously engaged in forward motion in pursuit of Student B.

Our Progress

The following describes Bend-La Pine Schools' most recent annual roadmaps and our progress to date towards reaching our goals. These investments were identified by analyzing student data; reviewing high leverage, research-based practices; determining where improvement is needed; and evaluating our current capacity to achieve our promise for each and every one of our students. While student achievement results overall are at or near all-time highs, Bend-La Pine Schools must work more diligently then ever to make sure all students attain excellence, regardless of their socio-economic status, English language proficiency and/or disabilities.





2019-20 Strategic Roadmap Priorities (Released February 2020 as a part of Bend-La Pine Schools new Strategic Investment Plan funded by Oregon's Student Success Act)

2019-20 Progress and Results (Released December 2020)

Our Call to Action

To accomplish the goals articulated in this plan, we must build upon all that we have learned and gained in recent years and we must elevate our focus on people—starting with our teachers and school leaders and extending to students, families and community partners. Everyone is valued, and everyone must play a crucial role.

  • At Bend-La Pine Schools, we will hold ourselves accountable to the goals and the strategies in this plan.
  • Teachers, school leaders and staff, we ask you to hold our students to high expectations, to model those standards in your own behavior, and to provide all students the support they need to succeed.
  • Parents and families, we ask you to partner with us in giving your children the support they need to succeed at school.
  • Community partners, we ask you to consider committing more of your time and talent.

Together, we can make our promise real— every student in Bend-La Pine Schools is known by name, strengths, and needs, and graduates ready for college, career and citizenship!

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