Make the McKenzie Connection!

Committed to delivering the best

Hello to all, especially those of you who may not know me. I’m Lane Tompkins, Superintendent/Principal of McKenzie School District and McKenzie River Community School. A native of McKenzie Bridge, I’m a proud alumnus of McKenzie Schools.

Our district has seen transformative changes under my tenure. Notably:

- We evolved our school into a community-centric charter, emphasizing place-based, project-based, and service learning.

- We’ve inaugurated the first licensed child care center in the McKenzie corridor, a testament to our commitment to early childhood development and supporting our working families.

I’ve always envisioned our students and community at the heart of our initiatives. This vision guided us through challenges like the COVID pandemic and the devastating aftermath of the Holiday Farm Fire.

I wanted to use this avenue and our beloved hometown newspaper as a way to address some rumors related to the district. I believe in transparency, and if there are questions to address, I’m here to answer them.

First, I’d like to address concerns recently raised about district transparency, particularly regarding administrative compensation. My salary this year is $112,596, not the rumored $212,000. My role combines the responsibilities of both a Superintendent and a K-12 Principal, making my compensation comparable to an Elementary Principal in Eugene or Springfield School Districts. I recognize the community’s investment in this role, and I am committed to serving with utmost dedication.

Second, I’d like to address concerns that have been raised related to our transportation department. We recently faced challenges caused by sudden staff resignations. Thanks to a cooperative agreement with other Lane County schools, we quickly addressed these challenges to temporarily ensure uninterrupted transportation for our students.

In moments when local solutions weren’t available, we took essential steps to ensure our students’ consistent transportation. Recently, even these bigger districts have had staffing level challenges that have made it difficult for them to help us any longer. We’re immensely thankful for the supportive partnerships during these times.

Third, recent staff resignations coincided with discussions regarding wage adjustments, leading to some misunderstandings in our community and concerns about potential disruptions. It’s worth noting that our Classified Staff, which includes our bus drivers, received a generous 6% cost of living adjustment (COLA) recently, demonstrating the school board’s commitment to fair compensation. We believe in a united mission to support our students and community, and we’re always open to constructive dialogue that serves the best interests of everyone involved.

As you know, we are still working to rebuild our school system following the pandemic, the Holiday Farm Fire, navigating opening school each fall with wildfire smoke impacts both near and far while supporting our students, staff, and families under varying levels of evacuation. Beyond these issues, we are seeing a very slow recovery process where only one-third of the homes lost in the fire of 2020 have been rebuilt three years later, and the state and federal government has been slow to roll out recovery programs that might be able to get folks finally back home.

Our facilities, while rich in history, urgently require upgrades. It’s our responsibility to ensure they reflect the high-quality, safe, and nurturing environments our students deserve.

As we look ahead to the 2025-2026 school year, we face a clear crossroads: without additional legislative funding or a boost in enrollment, the scope of our services and programs at McKenzie will need reevaluation. These challenges are significant, but we are determined to address them. With the continued support of our students, families, staff, and community, we are committed to delivering the best for our students and community.

To those I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years, I trust you see my genuine dedication to enhancing the lives of our students and community. For those new to our community or those with lingering questions, my door is always open. Let’s work together for the betterment of all in McKenzie.

Please remember we are in this together, and we could use your support as we navigate the future changes.

 

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