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The district is working on upgrades at a number of schools including LOJ, Lakeridge High

PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - The district recently completed the turfing of the softball field at Lake Oswego Junior High, and progress continues on a new hitting facility (pictured in the background). Lake Oswego School District Assistant Superintendent Stuart Ketzler and Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg presented a comprehensive update about the status of the district's athletic facilities to the school board at its April 8 meeting.

The update detailed a series of non-bond funded improvements to athletic facilities at LOSD's middle and high schools. The areas of improvement were identified by the Athletic Facilities Task Force in February 2018.

Instead of bond dollars, the projects are funded by the district's general fund and Construction Excise Tax (CET) fund, the total of which is around $11 million, according to Ketzler. CET money is collected by the district when someone remodels a business or home, and it must be used for capital purposes.

Board member Bob Barman explained that most people in the community do not pay any money toward CETs, because most people are not doing construction.

"Not only is that not costing me money, but I am going to get the benefits, just like everyone else in the community, of all of these wonderful facilities — and more importantly the children of this community are," Barman said.

Even with CET and the general fund, Ketzler said, "all of those resources don't accomplish everything on this list." They've had to prioritize.

The district was required to undertake some of the athletic facility improvements, Ketzler told the school board. A lawsuit filed in April 2016 which alleged that the district was in violation of Title IX because the girls softball team had been denied equal access to the kinds of equipment, facilities, funding and fundraising opportunities provided to the boys baseball team.

The lawsuit was settled in September 2017 and required the district to turf the girls softball field at Lake Oswego Junior High to allow all-weather play, make other improvements to the field — including an indoor hitting facility immediately outside the right-field fence — and take other measures to ensure equal opportunities.

"I know that Director (Sara) Pocklington and I, the first vote we cast on the board was a settlement agreement on Title IX. Those girls were so brave," said board member Rob Wagner. "It's so impressive to see the attention we put in, through an equity lens, to make sure that our girls have access to facilities that are comparable to what the boys are using. I'm really so pleased on that."

Vandenberg told the board that they recently completed a number of turf replacements, including turfing the aforementioned turf softball field at LOJ (a $1,275,000 undertaking funded by the general fund), turfing the softball field at Lakeridge High School as well as replacing the turf on what's known as Lakeridge's "Turf 2."

Other athletic facilities projects already completed are the weight rooms at Lake Oswego High School (a $225,000 project funded by a donation from alum and NBA player Kevin Love) and Lakeridge High School (funded by CET and parent donations totaling $200,000).

Vandenberg said that the hitting facility at LOJ, a $700,000 project funded by CET, is under construction and should be finished by the end of April this year.

The district has a few more projects planned for Lakeridge High School: its own softball hitting facility, lights on Turf 2 and repairs to the track.

Another major project getting underway at LHS is the improvement of the stadium. "We are in the process of obtaining land use permitting for our stadium expansion at Lakeridge High School," Vandenberg said. The stadium expansion will include a covered seating area and press box — upgrades the Lakeridge athletic community has long been asking for. These upgrades will cost an estimated $2,700,000 and be funded by CET.

There will also be 15 single stall universal bathrooms in the stadium, and a space where the Lakeridge community could install a snack shack.

"This will be a huge improvement," Superintendent Michael Musick said. "Planning leads to better programming which leads to better facilities."

The district still has things to plan when it comes to addressing some needed improvements identified by the Athletic Facilities Task Force. For example, the district must finish its master plan for the bond-related construction on Lake Oswego High School and Junior High before it can get to replacing the turf field and track at LOJ.

The district would also like install a natural grass field with walkways at Lakeridge High School. That project is currently awaiting a building permit, but the funding has not yet been determined.

There are two athletic facilities projects that the district will have put on the back burner due to a lack of funding: a turf field for Lakeridge High School baseball (an estimated $1,500,000), and resurfacing the Lake Oswego High School tennis court and installing lights ($450,000).

For more information on school and athletic facilities, www.losdschools.org/Domain/53/.

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