School board candidates share ideas at public forum
The River Grove Elementary PTO, in partnership with the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network (LOSN), held the first of three scheduled discussion forums featuring the three candidates for Lake Oswego School Board: Kirsten Aird, Kelly Calabria and John Wallin.
Aird is running unopposed for Position 5, Calabria is running for Position 1 and Wallin is running as the incumbent for Position 1.
The forum was held at River Grove Elementary Thursday, April 11, and roughly 50 people gathered in the gymnasium to hear the candidates' stances on various topics.
Courtney Clements, an LOSN School Action Team member, served as the moderator of the forum.
The three candidates all agreed on the importance of sustainability within the district. "I understand the importance of taking care of our planet and the roles that our schools play in that," Aird said. "There's no one else that can do it for us."
Wallin thanked the LOSN for all the work that they have done within the city. "The sustainability network has been so helpful," he said.
Additionally, he noted, all of the busses in the LOSD now run on natural gas, "which is fantastic."
The candidates responded to a question about the future of the bus barn, which has caused controversy throughout the district. The bus barn's current location in the Waluga neighborhood is too small and not suitable for its uses, according to the district. The new proposed location in the Rosewood neighborhood, however, has neighbors unhappy that the noise and traffic will be moved into their community.
The Lake Oswego Development Review Commission voted unanimously April 1 to deny the district's application for the Rosewood location.
"We (will) work together to find a solution that will work for everyone," Aird said. "There's lots of opportunities to discuss the options with the neighbors and the district."
Wallin said that it's time for the district to get creative. "I think it's time to work together with the City to make the new location work," he said.
Calabria noted that it's important for the district to learn from the current bus barn situation, "so unfortunate circumstances don't happen like this again."
The candidates also discussed Spanish Immersion at River Grove, in response to a question about where they see the program in ten years.
"A lot can happen in ten years," said Aird. "(Spanish Immersion) doesn't serve everyone, but I've been impressed by the immersion programs throughout the district and the country. We have to make sure we're ready as a community."
Wallin also voiced his approval. "In ten years I look forward to more kids being enrolled in it," he said.
Calabria said that she will support Spanish Immersion, but that it isn't inclusive enough, as it serves a small portion of students, and could be altered to serve more. "I hope the program will expand within the next ten years, but we have a ways to go for that to happen," she said.
Another important topic to many within the LOSD is capacity.
"The thing I do feel strongly about is that we are using all eight of our buildings and we are using them for a reason," Aird said.
She also stressed the need to respond to a October 2018 Special Needs Audit commissioned from the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative Education Development Center. The district commissioned the report to seek improvements in its treatment and programming for students with special needs.
"We have got respond to that that special needs audit," Aird said.
Wallin agreed, saying that the district needs to start with its most fragile kids and go from there.
The three candidates took part in a second forum hosted by Lake Oswego High School's Political Action Seminar class April 17, which will be covered in next week's paper. The final forum is April 29 at 6 p.m. It will be co-hosted by Respond to Racism and LO for LOve and held at the United Church of Christ, 1111 Country Club Road.