The Lake Oswego School Board discussed bus updates, inclusivity and nutrition when members met Monday, Oct. 25, in the Lake Oswego Junior High School library.
Proclamations dedicated to inclusivity
Small red ribbons decorated board members' shirts and blazers Monday — a small gesture to recognize Red Ribbon Week, which supports drug-free environments for children.
Frank Luzaich, executive director of elementary programs, read the official proclamation stating that the Lake Oswego community should demonstrate a commitment to a drug-free lifestyle during this time, and promote prevention measures.
After the reading, Board Chair Kristin Aird proposed the wording in the proclamation be changed, especially around the term "war on drugs", which is referenced multiple times.
"The war on drugs is absolutely grounded in white dominant culture aimed at targeting people of color in the prison system," she said.
She proposed next year they have a vote to support Red Ribbon Week, but also let students know that the school district supports students.
"We want them to have mental health support. We want them to be able to take care of themselves and know that we're here to support them and that drugs are not the alternative. And not get caught in using language that perpetuates the differences of the haves and the have nots," Aird said.
Later in the meeting, board member Neelam Gupta read a declaration for Native American Heritage Month. Members and student representatives took turns reading a line from the proclamation, which recognized that Lake Oswego sits on Indigenous land and that the district is committed to supporting the population.
"November and every day, we will celebrate the greatness of Native Americans," Aird said.
Superintendent Jennifer Schiele provided community members with updates on COVID-19. As of Oct. 18, all employees of the district were required to be vaccinated, per Gov. Kate Brown's executive mandate. In Lake Oswego, 98.6% of staff members are now vaccinated, with 1.4% exempt due to medical or religious reasons.
So far this year, the district has had 57 COVID-19 cases in schools.
"So on average, that's less than one case per building per week, with no transmissions in schools," said Schiele.
The optional COVID-19 screening program that is available for primary students has been running smoothly. So far there has been a 0.5% positivity rate among students.
Bus shortage updates
Schiele also offered updates to the severe bus driver shortage the district continues to experience.
The district has five open routes that need drivers. There are 21 potential workers in the pipeline, 10 of whom are halfway through training.
Mirroring a national trend, the Lake Oswego School District is experiencing supply chain issues and a slight shortage of school cafeteria workers.
The school is seeking about six new nutrition specialists to join the 25-person team. The district has also experienced some hiccups in supplying food to students from its main provider Sysco, with around 60% to 70% of its food orders fulfilled each week.
Cristobal Castro, the new director of food services, said that typically, weeks when the district has 90% fulfillment rates are considered to be bad. However, in the last week, the district has seen improvements.
The next board meeting will be Monday, Nov. 8.
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