MILTON-FREEWATER — It does not seem like six years have passed since I came to this city to work as the superintendent of the Milton-Freewater Unified School District.

That’s partly because of what everyone accomplished in that period — it’s been a rewarding and productive time for all involved.

We’ve had a great deal of construction over the last two years, but our journey started with destruction. The tearing down of the “old blue building,” known as the old district office (nee Dairy Queen), started what could arguably be the best six years in Milton-Freewater’s school district history.

A community-wide led by the Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance created our “Gathering Space,” to fill that space with a park-like oasis. This spawned other projects financed by the local option levy passed by the community and led by my predecessor, Jim Reger.

A year later, a gift from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation provided the impetus for our community to pass the first bond issue in our district since 1982. Gib Olinger Elementary School became the first new school in our community in almost 100 years. A new bus barn and safety upgrades happened in all facilities.

Soon there will be new soccer field(s) where Grove Elementary School once was.

As all of this was happening, our student learning improved in almost all categories. Our graduation rates increased and our Latino graduation rates were the highest in the state. More students are entering college, trade school and the military than ever before. Our state assessment scores are creeping up to state average.

What a great six years!

My wife, Linda, and I look forward to following Milton-Freewater in the future.  I thank the School Board for hiring me and I congratulate them for hiring Aaron Duff to replace me. There is a renaissance in Oregon education circles that will provide additional funding and opportunities for the students of Milton-Freewater and Aaron is the right person to shepherd our district through this process.

In closing, we would like to thank everyone that supported the community and school district over the last six years. Too many names to mention in this space, but know that your support is etched in our minds forever.   

Rob Clark is leaving the Milton-Freewater Unified School District to take the helm of the Sequim School District in Washington state.

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