Board considers health center at high school

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
It’s too early for answers regarding a proposed school-based health center at Lebanon High School, but Rachel Cannon, director of alternative education for Lebanon Community Schools, said data from several health-related agencies indicates a need for one.
Cannon presented a report at the December school board meeting stating that an advisory committee had resolved to pursue the center.
Although more recent data is forthcoming, the most current available indicates that the district’s students need more help with or better access to healthcare. Based on the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), which assesses eight social and emotional competencies, Lebanon’s high school students ranked higher than normal for “need for instruction,” according to Cannon’s report.
Some of DESSA’s competency ratings include relationship skills, optimistic thinking and goal-directed behavior. They’re used to help educators document student strengths and areas of need, and to plan instruction accordingly.
The report found that 18% of freshmen, 22% of sophomores and 24% of juniors need social-emotional instruction. “There is an obvious need in our high school for social-emotional well-being and mental health,” it read. Additionally, Cannon said, the district has helped 62 students with Oregon Health Plan needs and questions so far this year.
Cannon, who now serves her position remotely from another state, said in an email that Lebanon Community Schools is still in the early stages of the process to establish a center, but the group should know this month if it’ll receive a $90,000 grant to get started.
“Whether we get the grant or not, [the] Oregon Health Authority will help guide us in setting up our certified school-based health center,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Meckley said the district’s been involved in ongoing talks with local providers and agencies about collaborating to meet student health needs.
“The discussions became more formalized when a committee was formed in the spring of 2021,” she said. “The committee spent a few months conducting needs assessments and looking at data. It was clear from the data that there are many barriers to health care.”
During these sessions, a committee member brought up the possibility of a school-based health center. Further research led the team to pursue it, Meckley said.
Committee participants include Samaritan Health Services, Linn County Alcohol and Drug Prevention Specialists, Linn County Juvenile Department, Linn County Mental Health, Trillium Family Services, Greater Santiam Boys and Girls Club, Jackson Street Youth Services, Linn Benton Lincoln ESD, Western University of Health Sciences, a community faith-based organization. LCSD staff, including Meckley, Schools Supt. Bo Yates, other administrators, mental health specialists, a school nurse and social workers have also taken part.