Lake Oswego School Board pauses elementary boundary discussion
The Lake Oswego School Board accepted Superintendent Lora de la Cruz's recommendation to hold off on redrawing elementary school boundary lines another year.
At the Feb. 22 meeting, the board revisited the boundary committee's recommendations from the previous year — a task that was put on hold during remote learning.
"What we took away from that discussion is the fact that circumstances are different enough now, just given the year that we're having, to where we thought that we should hold off on changing boundaries for the 2021-22 school year," de la Cruz said at a meeting Tuesday, March 30. "So, what also came out of that was a need for us to sequence some key decisions to identify how and when we should consider redrawing boundaries."
Director of Communications Mary Kay Larson presented the recommendation at the meeting.
"Dr. de la Cruz talked about circumstances being different this year. One of the things that is different is that enrollment is down in the district," Larson said.
She said, districtwide, enrollment is down about 3.5%. Zeroing in on elementary schools, enrollment is down 9% at River Grove and 7% Oak Creek — the two schools where capacity needed to be alleviated last school year.
"Chair (Sara) Pocklington had talked about pain points or pressure points in our elementaries and based on current enrollment, those schools aren't at the same pressure points that they were when we first started this boundary review," Larson said.
According to Larson, it's likely that enrollment for 2021-22 won't be finalized until the start of the school year, at which point it would be too late to redraw boundaries for that same year.
Additionally, LOSD plans to keep its fully online program, LO Online, as an option for families next school year, which could further lessen congestion in school buildings.
"River Grove and Oak Creek have the two significantly higher numbers of students enrolled in LO Online," Larson said.
Larson said the district hopes voters will approve a second bond in November, which would allow for River Grove to be rebuilt and further capacity to be created in the district. A $187 million bond was approved by voters in 2017.
"It really does seem like this is the time to pause after the year we've had and the direction we're going forward," board member Liz Hartman said.
Board member John Wallin had questions about the potential timeline for alleviating capacity issues and voiced concern over pushing out the boundary decision for too much longer.
"I think in the same way that we fell out of bond discipline for 20 years, I don't want us to fall out of boundary discussion discipline as well," Wallin said.
Wallin asked if it was a realistic timeframe to expect the bond to pass in November and River Grove to be rebuilt the following year.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Stuart Ketzler said that with advanced preparations in the design stage — slated to begin this winter — the district would be positioned to begin rebuilding River Grove in the summer of 2022.
The board will revisit the boundary conversation in winter 2021 or spring 2022.
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