Always learning

Good Afternoon, Mr. Bauer.

Thank you for your letter to NewsBF.com regarding the Go-On rate of Bonners Ferry High School students.

First of all, we’d like to ensure the data is correctly reported. Bonners Ferry High School’s “Go-On” rate for 2015 was 45 percent, up from 41 percent in 2014. Go On trends in 12-month rates, https://www.idahoednews.org/news/idahos-go-woes-happened-happens-now/).

We appreciate your concern and interest in this subject. Whenever someone takes the time to discuss education, we welcome the feedback and are happy to engage in a constructive conversation. As the cliche goes, “It takes a village.” Quality education for all students in Boundary County is our number one priority, and we love it when the community steps forward to provide support and suggestions for making it better.

The Go-On rate is not only a Boundary County concern, but a state-wide concern (Visit https://www.idahoednews.org/news/idahos-college-go-rate-drops-50-percent/).

However, the numbers are deceiving. As you noted, Mr. Bauer, this rate does not include the students who joined the military. It also does not include the students who chose mission work immediately after high school, prior to embarking on their college education. Both the military and the mission field are respectable post-secondary decisions, which we whole-heartedly support here in Boundary County.

Oftentimes, a strong job economy also lures individuals away from pursuit of a college career. As noted by Matt Handelman, Superintendent of Coeur d’Alene School District, in the aforementioned Idaho Ed News article, “People are just sort of following what they need to do individually. They’re not going to pay attention to the goal of the state.” In Boundary County, we saw many of our former students (and other local individuals) flock to North Dakota and oil-rich areas during the boom between 2012 and 2015. Many of these students have come home and are pursuing their education, while others are still successfully working in those states.

We are proud to highlight the extensive efforts which are underway in BCSD supporting post-secondary college and career readiness. The grant-funded GEAR-UP initiative (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) was implemented five years ago with a cohort of 6th and 7th graders, who are now juniors and seniors at BFHS.

Within the next couple years, we will begin to see the benefits of this program. We have a team of admin, counselors, and the Board working diligently to find ways to financially sustain the GEAR-UP program when the grant funds run out with the graduation of the Class of 2018.

Paula Petesch, Jacob Garrison, and Jaycee Atkins are to be commended for their work with the GEAR-UP cohorts.

Jennifer Mackey was hired this year at BFHS as counselor with her focus and emphasis specifically on advanced opportunities and post-secondary education. She is proud to share that 94 of BFHS’s 99 seniors have already applied to at least one (most have applied to more than one) post-secondary institution. Keep in mind, some of these students may choose to join the military or a mission effort prior to entering an academic and/or technical program.

We would also like to invite you to join the social media group on Facebook, BFHS Counselor Department. You will see that page serving as an outlet to make students, parents, and community more aware of scholarships, application deadlines, and other “Go-On” opportunities. Not only are we proud of the efforts being made at the high school level, but at the middle and elementary levels, as well. We know a strong educational foundation begins in the home, but we are taking great strides to guide and support our students to futures beyond their dreams.

Again, thank you for taking an interest in Boundary County’s Go-On rate and the quality of education in our schools. We invite you to be a part of the continued efforts in the quest of making Boundary County schools a beacon of educational excellence. Our goal is to be “at the top of the state”, in more ways than just geography.

Please join our team at the next Advanced Opportunities meeting at Bonners Ferry High School in January (date and time TBA) to share your thoughts and suggestions. We look forward to working with you and any other community members who wish to be part of the collaboration.

Always Learning,

Robin Merrifield

Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

Boundary County School District No. 101

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