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Lake Oswego School Board meeting also included updates on elementary schools, academic plan

PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER - Lakeridge Middle School constructionDuring the Jan. 27 Lake Oswego School Board meeting, Superintendent Lora de la Cruz and the district bond team updated the community on several items. Most noteworthy was an update on the district's new academic plan and the construction of the new Lakeridge Middle School.

This week, de la Cruz and her team will start building out the timeline for the academic plan. The plan will cover special education programming and inclusion, as well as literacy curriculum and an equity plan.

Executive Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg and Chair of the Bond Accountability Committee Victor Millan-Simpkins presented updates on several bond projects.

The first major update presented was on Lakeridge Middle School construction.

The project has seen some setbacks throughout the process and is behind schedule by about 20 days — though there are still opportunities to make up lost time.

Vandenburg proposed moving the opening date for sometime in October.

"It's gonna take staff some time to learn the building," Vandenberg said.

Vandenberg added that he will be working with staff on a transition plan as things progress.

"This is going to be a different building than anything we have in the district and it's going to take some learning, even professional learning for our staff to know how to use it in an optimal way to support and serve our students and that takes time," de la Cruz said. "I want to make sure that we can start strong and open it right."

Board member Kirsten Aird voiced concerns that the transition may be hard for students. She hoped there will be an opportunity for students to get familiar with the new building before the start of school.

Other bond updates included Westridge and Hallinan elementary schools.

Dry rot was discovered at Westridge Elementary School after major renovations occurred.

"With what we discovered over the summer, we decided that exterior brick replacement was inevitable. We were planning on doing that this summer, however, we're reassessing whether we need to do it this summer," Vandenberg said. "We may postpone that for (a) future date, mostly because of our volume of work we're doing already."

As of right now, the dry rot is mostly a cosmetic issue. If left for too long it can cause other problems. According to Vandenberg postponing the Westridge brick replacement won't harm the school in any way.

Schedule updates were made to Hallinan Elementary School project as well.

After exploring various schedule options, the team decided to let the project extend into the fall.

The schedule, however, won't affect the students. They will be able to occupy the building during the remaining construction in the fall. The interior of the building will be completed in summer 2020 and contractors will continue to work on the exterior of the building into the fall.

Immersion program expansion on hold

De la Cruz also updated the board on the future of the Spanish language immersion program.

"We are going to be hiring a teacher on special assignment to oversee the kindergarten through high school immersion program we currently have," said de la Cruz, adding that the position will help to fortify alignment across the program.

De la Cruz said that a number of parent advocates came to her with a request for a Chinese immersion program. Currently the district only offers an immersion program in Spanish.

She did a feasibility study on a possible Chinese Immersion program, which included visits to existing Chinese immersion schools outside the district and an analysis of LOSD's current immersion program for strengths and needs.

They decided that with other major districtwide endeavors such as the ongoing school boundary review and the strategic plan, now was not the right time to put in motion plans for a Chinese immersion program.

"We feel like we want to keep that as a possibility," de la Cruz said. "I see the benefits of it. At this time, though, we can't meet a deadline of opening a Chinese immersion program for next year."

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