Home > Article from newspaper > Study: Merge deaf, blind schools

Study: Merge deaf, blind schools

March 7, 2007
Anna Jarvie, 13, takes a test Tuesday in the library of the Oregon School for the Deaf. A state study recommends combining the campuses of the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind.
Anna Jarvie, 13, takes a test Tuesday in the library of the Oregon School for the Deaf. A state study recommends combining the campuses of the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind.
Combine Oregon School for the Blind and Oregon School for the Deaf onto one campus.
Continue to research whether the consolidated schools should move to a new site.
Conduct appraisals and lease valuations for each school.
About the state schools
Oregon School for the Blind is at 700 Church St. SE.
There are 30 students enrolled: two are day students; 28 live on campus during the week.
Oregon School for the Deaf is at 999 Locust St. NE.
There are 106 students enrolled: 61 are day students; 45 live on campus during the week.
SOURCE: Oregon Department of Education
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Study: Merge deaf, blind schools

Decision could come this month about cost-saving proposal

March 7, 2007

A study released Tuesday proposes merging the Oregon School for the Deaf and the Oregon School for the Blind into a single Salem-area campus.

The study, commissioned by State Superintendent Susan Castillo in December, also proposes creating a new site for both schools. Castillo expects to make a decision by the end of March, she said.

Placing two schools on one site would save money, state officials said. The report said enrollment at both schools has decreased, and student costs have increased.

Education costs for the hearing-impaired are projected to be about $60,000 annually per student by 2007-09. The cost could be about $149,000 annually for the vision-impaired.

“That’s not sustainable,” said Ed Dennis, deputy superintendent of public schools. “That’s why we need to look at change.”

Dennis said state officials have no intention of closing either school.

Moving the School for the Blind in southeast Salem to the School for the Deaf’s northeast Salem campus has been considered several times, most recently in 1993. Currently, 30 students attend the School for the Blind. There are 106 students at the school for the deaf.

There always has been resistance to the idea of combining the schools, said Don Lorenzen, who served as deaf-school director from 1992 to 1999. He said he would not oppose merging campuses as long as the schools were operated separately, particularly if the change would bring upgraded facilities.

“I think it could work, especially if both sets of parent groups and all of their stakeholders bought into the idea,” he said.

Salem resident Geri Hallisy, a former member of the Oregon chapter of the American Council of the Blind, said she opposes merging the schools because it might discourage parents of vision-impaired children from enrolling them. She said the needs of deaf and blind children are distinct, and the schools should remain separate.

At a school carnival held at the School for the Deaf Tuesday night, Salem parent Kirk Jarvie said he’s not opposed to the blind school moving there if that would save money.

“If they need to share a campus to keep them open, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to accept,” said Kirk, the father of two daughters who are deaf. But Kirk said he’d like more information about opening a new site.

In December, the School for the Deaf experienced a management change when director Jane Mulholland was dismissed. Many people in the deaf community decried the move and continue to call for Mulholland’s reinstatement as well as the creation of a separate school board.

In the Legislature, a bill has been introduced by Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, that would establish a board of trustees for the Oregon School for the Deaf, which would remove control of the school from the Oregon Department of Education. Senate Bill 757 is set for public hearing Thursday, and many parents and advocates for the deaf back this issue.

Parent Bobbe Gesch of Keizer said she understands that the changes might save money but doesn’t think it would serve the students at either school.

“For finances, it’d probably be much better. But I think what’s the best thing for the kids, not the finances,” said Gesch, whose daughter attends the School for the Deaf.

rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941


  1. Juan Mora
    October 31, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    looking for a school for deaf and blind to service our son who is 10 years old. if anyone can help please do.


    juan and esmeralda mora

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