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The citizen committee continues to oversee bond work alongside the school board

COURTESY PHOTO: LAKE OSWEGO SCHOOL DISTRICT - WESTRIDGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLThe Lake Oswego School District continues to make progress implementing the $187 million school bond to improve school technology, facilities and student safety. The Bond Accountability Committee presented its progress to the school board March 18, and held a meeting Tuesday, April 2 to review recent progress and possible roadblocks.

The Bond Accountability Committee (BAC) was created by the school board and former Superintendent Heather Beck in August 2017, three months after the Lake Oswego community voted to approve the school bond. It is a citizen committee charged with monitoring the planning and progress of the bond program relative to the voter-approved work scope, schedule and budget objectives. The committee was created "in response to the need for public transparency and accountability regarding the District's effective use of capital construction bond funds," according to the committee charter.

"It's an incredible committee. The greatest part about this committee is the hard work they do. They ask challenging questions, difficult questions," said school board chair Bob Barman at the March 18 school board meeting. "They're asking the questions that we want, and the staff is absorbing them."

BAC member Scott Emmett presented to the board along with Tony Vandenberg, executive director of project management and chair of the BAC.

Emmett cited the many recent changes in district administration as a possible issue in the implementation of the bond.

Randy Miller, the district's former director of project management, retired in January; a few weeks later, the district appointed Vandenberg to take his place. Vandenberg was the bond program manager, and his former position has not yet been filled.

"The district has lost one project manager, one executive director, replaced said executive director with the program manager, and now needs to backfill the program manager void," said Emmett. "Add to that that we'll be on our third superintendent before any of the significant work is underway."

Emmett said the BAC is "cautiously observing" these changes, but is hopeful. "Every indication so far is that the recent change in executive director is working out well. We are optimistic that a course correction is underway with this new organization structure."

At the April 2 BAC meeting, in addition to status reports on the schedule and budget of each of the improvements to each school, the committee discussed a March 18 school board decision to transfer $2.5 million from the bond premium to be used for construction on Westridge Elementary.

The bond premium was generated last year from the sale of $160 million. Due to the district's excellent bond rating, that sale generated $17.5 million, and the district estimates that the investment of bond proceeds will also generate $5.5 million in interest income, providing the district with a premium of approximately $23 million.

Previously, the school board approved the allocation of $12 million of the bond premium for the Lakeridge Junior High and Uplands/Oak Creek projects. Vandenberg says he anticipates asking for a portion of the bond premium in the future for the construction on Hallinan elementary.

At Westridge, the bond premium will be used to increase the seismic retrofitting, add additional security components including high-end security glazing (a window coating to provide protection from forced entry and ballistic threats) on the ground floor, a complete roof replacement and interior space modifications, according to Vandenberg.

The school board unanimously accepted their recommendation of $2.5 million of the premium to be used at Westridge. The BAC will present another update of their work to the school board at the April 8 meeting.

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