School board welcomes new members and chairs
Monday's school board meeting may have been short, but it was eventful. Not only was it the first meeting for Eli Counce and Charlie Liu, the district's new student school board representatives, the board also welcomed Kirsten Aird and John Wallin to their new roles. Aird will hold Position 5, formerly held by Bob Barman; Wallin will return to Position 1. Aird and Wallin will serve four-year terms. Superintendent Lora de la Cruz also provided a brief update on her transition into Lake Oswego.
At the July 15 meeting, board members also elected Rob Wagner to board chair and Liz Hartman to vice chair. Wagner, who served as the vice chair in the 2018-19 school year, was nominated by Wallin, who commended Wagner's work the past year.
"It's an incredible honor. I'm very excited to serve as board chair this year," Wagner said. "I don't know everything. I want to express everyone's input and what they bring to the table. I will always reach out to my fellow board members and superintendent if I ever have any questions."
Wagner also serves as a state senator for the 19th district of Oregon, and expressed gratitude that he would have more time to focus on school board this year. "I am absolutely blessed with the fact that it's not a legislative year. I have eleven months of the year that I don't have to drive to Salem everyday," Wagner said.
Hartman was nominated for vice chair, which was approved in a unanimous vote.
De la Cruz welcomed Counce and Liu to their new roles as well. She said she had a chance to sit down with both student representatives, and was "incredibly impressed with their depth of reflection" as well as their understanding of the importance of social-emotional wellbeing of students.
"It's a great pleasure and honor for me to be a member of the school board," said Liu, who is a senior at Lake Oswego High School. "It's a great opportunity to speak and bring students' voices from our schools and other schools to our school board, and let everyone be informed of the students' minds as a collective entity."
Counce, who is a senior at Lakeridge, agreed. "We looked at how hard school was getting, and it's increasingly important to bring students voices to the table — people that are stressed out and overloaded at school," Counce said. "It's important to look at the mental and physical wellbeing of our students."
In addition to meeting with the student representatives and other district staff, de la Cruz told the board that she attended the first two of ten sessions of the "New Superintendent Academy" put on by the Confederation of School Administrators (COSA). De la Cruz is one of twenty new school superintendents in Oregon this year. "I'm still very much in listening mode," she said.
De la Cruz said she learned about how to best use resources available at the state level, time management and timelines, and more. According to COSA, the goal of the academy is to "create a collaborative learning network focused on key leadership skills and practical strategies to help improve their individual school districts."
De la Cruz also provided a brief update about the implementation of the Special Education Audit. The audit was done by the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative Education Development Center last October, and commissioned by the district to identify improvements in its treatment and programming for students with special needs. The audit found that while the LOSD has made strides in supporting students with special needs, there is major room for improvement.
De la Cruz said that because of many families being on vacation, she has been limited in the amount of community engagement that has been possible since she took over as superintendent June 1. "We're going to make this an interactive process...taking in feedback as we go forward," de la Cruz said. "We need to open (the audit) up for more attention soon, and to provide opportunities to community engagement for a robust plan that meets our needs."
The next school board meeting will be held Monday, August 19.
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