School bond implementation process moves ahead in Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego School District officials said this week that they have made significant strides toward implementation of the $187 million bond measure approved by voters in May.
Randy Miller, the district's executive director of project management, told The Review that the LOSD has hired two senior construction project managers and has tentatively chosen an architecture firm to design the new Lakeridge Junior High School.
In addition, Miller said, the district's Bond Accountability Committee has held its first meeting and applications will soon be accepted for a Long Range Facilities Planning Committee. A conceptual schedule detailing upcoming bond projects has been announced, too.
"We're going to combine projects whenever it is possible and appropriate," Miller said.
In addition to replacing Lakeridge Junior High, the bond measure will address deferred maintenance at all 10 of the district's schools. "Dark fiber" for high-speed internet connections has already been installed at all district facilities, the covered play structure at Forest Hills Elementary has been repaired and a covered walkway has been installed at River Grove Elementary.
Projects at Uplands and Oak Creek elementary schools are up next, Miller told the Bond Accountability Committee at its Oct. 5 meeting. The goal is to only touch each school once, he said, to insure minimal learning disruptions.
The bond passed by Lake Oswego voters in May also includes funding for improvements to security, safety and technology; creation of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) centers; the addition of maker spaces and multipurpose rooms; and replacement of the district's swimming pool. One of the challenges in securing construction firms, architects and contractors for all of those projects, Miller said, is the abundance of bond money currently at play within Oregon school districts.
"I see other school districts as our competitors," he said. "Our strategy is to get ahead of them."
Miller will oversee the bond implementation, along with recently hired Senior Construction Project Managers David Lageson and Lou Tarnay.
Lageson worked for Lewis & Clark College for 23 years, serving as operations manager and facilities manager; he has spent the past seven years working at Eastern Oregon University as the school's director of facilities and planning. Tarnay has spent the past three years serving as the bond program manager for Linn-Benton Community College; he also worked for eight years as the facilities project manager at Linfield College.
One of the key decisions the district had to make before moving forward was whether the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee would be appointed by Superintendent Heather Beck or by the School Board. Board-appointed committees are subject to public records law and must follow certain regulations that superintendent-appointed committees do not.
School Board member Bob Barman, a tenacious proponent of a board-appointed committee, told his colleagues at a meeting in September that a superintendent-appointed committee could create a potential transparency issue.
"It's important for us to ask folks to come forward, from different neighborhoods, who might not have kids in the schools but care deeply about (the bond implementation)," Barman said.
He argued that because the bond serves the entire community, all residents should have an opportunity to share their opinions on how the bond money is spent.
"This should be a fundamentally open process," he said. "The whole community voted for this bond."
After a review of surrounding school districts showed that board-appointed committees were the norm in other bond measure projects, the School Board opted to go in the same direction. The Long Range Facilities Planning Committee will be made up of 15-16 members, according to Assistant Superintendent Mike Musick, and include representatives from each school.
Miller also said the district interviewed architecture firms to design Lakeridge Junior High last week, and an internal decision has been made. Once background vetting and fee negotiations are complete, a public announcement will be made and the design process will begin, he said.
And once a contractor is selected, Miller said, that company will be brought in to work side by side with architects to ensure that possible construction problems are identified early in the process, before construction begins.
At the Oct. 5 meeting of the Bond Accountability Committee, Miller stressed the importance of public input to the design of Lakeridge Junior High.
"This is the first new school in 17 years, and it represents a lot to a lot of people," he said. "The design process will involve significant community outreach, including a Design Advisory Group."