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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 25, 2018)
THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2018
142nd Year, No. 71
WINNER OF THE 2017 ONPA GENERAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
By ANTONIO SIERRA
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Sophomore Alejandro Gutierrez, right, gets counseling for his class schedule from graduation coordinator Omar Medina on Wednesday
at Hermiston High School.
TABS ON GRADS
Hermiston grad rates lag behind
as neighbors improve their rates
By JAYATI RAMAKRISHNAN
2016-17 SCHOOL YEAR
The Oregon Department of Education
released its annual graduation rates Thursday
and Hermiston fell well below the state
Hermiston School District’s graduation
rate of 65.8 percent — a slight uptick from
the previous year — is more than 10 points
below the statewide graduation rate of 76.6
percent. The ﬁ gure is derived from the
percentage of students who receive a diploma
four years after they begin high school.
Hermiston’s rates have been lower than
the state average for the last few years, and
the rate this year was the lowest of all districts
in Umatilla County.
Hermiston administrators acknowledged
that the rates are not where they had hoped.
“I would love to at least hit the state
average next year,” said Hermiston High
School Principal Tom Spoo. “And that would
be a huge jump. The state average has been
One factor in the low rates, Spoo said,
was the 2016 dissolution of the Innovative
Learning Center, Hermiston’s alternative
school. Those students were absorbed back
into the high school.
“We’re still seeing the ramiﬁ cations of the
State of Oregon
Pendleton high nears
95 percent graduation,
other schools vary
By ANTONIO SIERRA
ILC dissolving,” Spoo said.
The graduation rate for Hermiston High
School this year, including alternative school
students, was 72.5 percent. Last year, with
those students in a separate category, the high
school graduation rate was 87.6 percent.
However, the district-wide graduation
For the second straight year, the Pendleton School
District’s graduation rate signiﬁ cantly exceed the
state average. But the district’s relatively high
graduation rate belies a growing disparity between
Pendleton’s three high schools.
Matt Yoshioka, the district’s director of curric-
ulum, instruction and assessment, was excited about
the 83 percent graduation rate for 2016-2017, only a
point below the year before.
“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” he said.
Anchoring that overall statistic was the perfor-
mance of Pendleton High School, which graduated
94.7 percent of its seniors.
PHS’ success wasn’t limited to a single demographic.
No race, gender, socioeconomic background or other
subgroup graduated at a rate less than 85 percent.
Pendleton High School’s dropout rate was a paltry
0.5 percent, much smaller than the 3.6-percent rate
Principal Dan Greenough said the key to Pend-
leton High School’s success is the teachers and
counselors who worked with the students along the
way. Counselors were assigned to each subgroup to
make sure students were doing what they needed to
graduate on time.
While data centers have
turned into a legitimate
industry on the west side of
Umatilla County, Pendleton is
still waiting for its ﬁ rst.
It’s not from lack of trying.
In 2015, the city signed a
30-year lease with Makad
Corp. to open a new, $45
million data center on the
Airport Road extension.
More than two years later,
the city is still without a data
center or a rental payment for
the 12 acres it leased to the
Vancouver, Wash., company.
At an October 2015
meeting, Makad ofﬁ cials told
the city council that the subsid-
iary that was going to handle
the project, CyDat Industries,
needed a two-year grace
period on $2,460-per-month
rent while it conducted feasi-
The rent deferments are
supposed to deliver longterm
beneﬁ ts if the data center
opens: 45 jobs and up to $8
million in property tax revenue
over the life of the lease, in
addition to revenue from
the rent, which will increase
If Makad’s project came
to fruition, the city would
introduce its own set of incen-
tives, including waived sewer
connection fees, free electrical
and ﬁ ber connections, a 5
percent reduction of permit-
ting fees per job with a 50
percent reduction ceiling and
assistance in qualifying for
Pendleton’s enterprise zone,
which would exempt the data
center from paying property
taxes for three to ﬁ ve years.
extension has already been
But most of those incen-
tives aren’t close to being
City manager Robb Corbett
said Tuesday that the begin-
ning of the lease payment had
been pushed back to Jan. 1,
This is the second time
the city has agreed to change
HART gives 2,723
free rides in ﬁ rst year
By JADE MCDOWELL
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
The HART shuttle leaves the bus stop at Walmart on Wednesday in Hermiston.
Ridership on Hermiston’s
new bus system did not grow
as quickly as anticipated
during its ﬁ rst year of service,
but it still fulﬁ lled its purpose
of providing free transporta-
tion to residents.
“Overall I’m really happy
with it,” said Susan Johnson,
manager of Kayak Public
The HART began in
January 2017 as a free
public bus system run by the
Confederated Tribes of the
Umatilla Indian Reservation
under a contract with the
city of Hermiston. Ridership
numbers for its ﬁ rst year of
operation show an average
of 11.1 riders per day for the
ﬁ rst nine months of 2017,
which jumped to 11.8 riders
per day after the city adjusted
the route on Oct. 1 to make
it more user-friendly. In all, it
gave 2,723 rides in 2017.
The system’s best month
was November, when 283
rides were given over 19
service days. Assistant city