Elementary Boundary Review Committee reveals latest draft of new boundary at open house

COURTESY PHOTO - Draft three of the elementary boundary was presented at the opne house. It is not an official map and is subject to change. The Lakeridge High School library was a full house Wednesday, Feb. 5, as elementary school parents and principals clustered around boundary maps detailing the third draft of a new elementary boundary.

The open house, hosted by the Lake Oswego School District's Elementary Boundary Review Committee, was a much anticipated event for parents of elementary-aged students. It was the first opportunity for the committee to share a draft of the new boundary and talk with parents about their thought processes. It was also the first time parents outside of the committee could see what direction the boundary decision is headed.

The draft presented at the open house showed that in order to alleviate some of the capacity issues at River Grove Elementary, the Spanish Immersion Elementary Program would move from its current home at River Grove to the district's swing school, Uplands Elementary. Lake Grove and Forest Hills boundaries were also expanded to mitigate capacity issues at Oak Creek.

Although changes were made to boundary lines at north side schools, south side boundaries were left untouched.

Mary Kay Larson, LOSD director of communications, said this is because the schools on the south side are smaller than ones on the north side, leaving less opportunity to make changes. Meanwhile, north side schools have more opportunities to accommodate students in shared spaces because target capacity is not determined so much by number of classrooms as it is by equitable access to shared spaces — like the gym and music rooms.

For example, River Grove, a south side school, cannot currently hold schoolwide assemblies because not all the students fit in the gym at one time.

The committee was created in January to rebalance capacity levels throughout elementary schools and create breathing room for future growth. Currently, River Grove and Oak Creek elementary schools are at capacity.

The committee is comprised of two elementary parents, the principal from each of the six schools and two secondary parents — one representing the north side and one representing the south side.

The committee began working with FLO Analytics on drafting a new boundary in January. This was the first of two open houses before the committee presents a recommendation to the school board in March.

Michael Martin, committee member, has a second grader in the Spanish Immersion program at River Grove.

He said he's skeptical about the idea of isolating the Spanish Immersion program by moving it to Uplands, which currently does not have a student body for the immersion program to be integrated with.

"I struggle with that … Are they going to get a rounded education?" Martin said.

He said the students in the program are already so close, having spent year after year in the same cohort, and wants them to be exposed to kids outside their cohort. Martin equated it with how it's good for siblings to have friends outside their family.

Brandy Begin, a committee member who has a student at Hallinan, worked primarily with the boundary of south side schools.

"We've tried a bunch of different scenarios to try to avoid moving Spanish Immersion to Uplands," she said. "We were trying to minimize the number of little humans (who would) have change."

Moving the Spanish Immersion program to Uplands would affect 166 students.

Scott Schinderle, Lake Grove principal, said the most important thing he's learned throughout the process is that it has to be collaborative.

"We strive for the lowest amount of displacement as possible," he said. "My hope is that we have a better balance between all six elementary schools."

He said that currently a number of students who live within River Grove's boundary transfer to Lake Grove every year. He said that might be less of an option if Lake Grove receives other students from boundary changes made to the north side, since transfers are accepted based on capacity.

Molly Ducker, a north side secondary parent on the committee, said that although her kids are now in middle and high school, they were once at Oak Creek and she's glad to see progress being made to alleviate Oak Creek's capacity.

She said it's still a work in progress.

The committee will continue to meet, reviewing any feedback given by attendees of the open house and drafting other iterations of boundary lines. The next open house will be March 4.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!