Community hears bond update
Lake Oswego School District officials held their first Bond Engagement Meeting on Saturday to update the community on the status of projects funded by the $187 million bond measure approved by voters last May.
Nearly 90 people attended the session at Lakeridge Junior High, where they got a chance to ask questions and voice concerns. Among the topics mentioned most often: plans for the district swimming pool; sustainability, safety and earthquake preparedness; and the upcoming replacement of LJH.
"We're pleased that nearly 90 people chose to be part of this process," said Superintendent Heather Beck. "We know our bond program will be a long process, and we hope events like this along the way will enable us to consistently collect the community's input.
"With everyone's involvement," Beck told The Review, "we will be able to construct and update our facilities to match our vision for our students' educational experiences."
Randy Miller, the district's executive director of project management, briefed the crowd on completed and ongoing bond projects. Crews already have installed a covered walkway at River Grove Elementary, renovated an outdoor covered play area at Forest Hills Elementary and remodeled classrooms to create more space at Oak Creek Elementary, he said.
Miller also talked about several upcoming projects, including increasing safety and security at all schools, technology upgrades (including STEM equipment in all schools) and seismic retrofitting. But School Board Chair John Wallin said that "the big news is that we are beginning to plan the Lakeridge Junior High project, which will really excite the community when they see plans starting to come together."
The district has already contracted with an architecture and design firm for the replacement of LJH, Miller said.
Replacement of the district pool was also a significant topic at the meeting. While the bond passed by voters includes $7 million for a new pool, district officials have said that it will take additional funds — preferably in the form of a public or private partnership — to build the kind of pool that the entire community wants.
"We had many questions about the pool and also great wisdom from many patrons of the pool," said School Board member Bob Barman. "My takeaway is that it's apparent the existing pool is inadequate in size, along with the fact that the pool facility is in one of the poorest conditions of any building we manage. This is driven by the fact that when the pool was built in 1970, Lake Oswego had approximately 14,000 residents. We now have approximately 37,000."
Wallin said the district is committed to the pool project and is working with the City to figure out the best steps forward.
"We do have $7 million allocated in the bond to replace the pool, and we are working with our partners at the City and other community stakeholders to explore design and budget options," Wallin said, adding that he understands the community's desire for an improved pool and was impressed with the community engagement at the meeting.
"The overall attendance and engagement reiterated to me that our community cares about education and wants to hear more information about what is happening with the bond program," Wallin said. "People are excited this is happening."
Several members of the Bond Accountability Committee were in attendance at Saturday's meeting. The BAC is comprised of community members selected by the LOSD to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the school bond.
"The public is definitely interested in ensuring that we are being accountable for their tax dollars," Wallin said, "which is why we had questions about that process during the session."
School Board member Liz Hartman said community engagement is essential in the bond implementation process.
"The public needs confidence that the board, the project managers and everyone involved with the bond are doing everything possible to bring these projects in on time and on (or under) budget," Hartman said. "The public values education and the resources it involves to deliver a great education, but the public also requires that these resources are valued and taken care of under all circumstances."
For more information about the school bond and a calendar of upcoming meetings, visit www.losdschools.org/Page/2198.