More than drawing lines
The Lake Oswego School District's Boundary Review Committee presented multiple recommendations to Superintendent Lora de la Cruz Wednesday, March 11, following a second open house that was held March 4.
On March 11, the committee brought multiple recommendations to Superintendent Lora de la Cruz. Despite originally being charged with only presenting one recommendation, the committee found the amount of variables involved in making a single recommendation to be beyond the scope of their work. The variables include budget considerations, operational and logistical feasibility, transportation, long-term stability, timing and implementation.
The boundary committee consists of elementary principals, two parents from each elementary school and two secondary parents — one from the south side and one from the north side. The March 4 event was structured similarly to the last — maps circled the room as committee members talked through the potential school boundary changes with parents and community members. This time two maps were placed at each station — the most recent draft, 3B, and the previous draft, 3A.
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.
Draft 3A, which was presented to the community at an open house last month, made changes to the boundaries at north side schools while leaving south side schools as they were, with the exception of moving the voluntary Spanish Immersion Program that currently resides at River Grove Elementary School to the district's swing school, Uplands. This idea was contested by many because it would isolate the Spanish Immersion students from other peers, given that they'd be without a surrounding school body if placed at Uplands.
Draft 3B keeps the changes made to north side schools in version 3A and shifts the boundaries on the south side to prevent moving the Spanish Immersion Program from River Grove to Uplands. In 3B, south side boundaries shift so that part of River Grove's population moves to Westridge and part of Westridge's population moves to Hallinan.
One parent, Alis Smbatyan, who has a kindergartener in the Spanish Immersion Program and a third grader at Oak Creek, was glad to see draft 3B had nixed the idea of moving the Spanish Immersion students.
She said having moved around a lot herself, she doesn't want that same thing for her kids.
"Having stability is comforting," she said.
She added that there were many uncertainties associated with the idea of moving the Spanish Immersion Program. She wondered what bus routes would look like, and how long it would take to build up more cohorts and special programs.
Because of the number of elementary students in the district, a capacity goal of 85% for each school — which the committee was originally charged with as its target for balancing schools — cannot be reached with the existing six schools. Something the committee has to grapple with is how important that goal is moving forward.
Not moving the Spanish Immersion Program from River Grove would mean not meeting that goal. Although draft 3B gets the capacity of River Grove down to 85.2%, shifting students to Westridge and Hallinan leaves those two schools at 95.3% and 95.7% respectively.
Opening a seventh school — Uplands or Palisades — would not only isolate a group of students from a greater student body, but spark questions about long-term solutions, transportation and financing as well.
Lake Grove Principal Scott Schinderle, a member of the boundary committee, said he's heard a desire from parents for a permanent plan for Spanish Immersion. He said parents are also asking him whether the boundaries have to change by next fall, or if implementation can hold off. Schinderle said that given all the unknowns, parents might feel comfortable with more time to plan for whatever final changes are to come.
A parent in the district, Amy Kaplan, was handing out fliers at the open house urging people to fill out a survey in support of draft 3A.
"I support 3A because it follows the committee's guiding principles," she said. She added that since the Spanish Immersion Program is voluntary, parents can choose not to place their kids in the program if they don't want them to be at Uplands.
De la Cruz will bring recommendations from the committee to the school board March 30.
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.