Board members tackled new strategies to hire additional staff, as well as efforts to create a more inclusive curriculum for middle schoolers.  

On Monday, Nov. 9, when the Lake Oswego School Board went to Westridge Elementary School for a meeting and work session, the most prominent conversation centered around celebrating current employees while also attracting new ones with financial bonuses.

Since the start of the academic year, the district has experienced a steady shortage of staff, specifically in temporary teachers and special education instructors. The school district has just over 20 open positions spanning from athletics to nutrition services. To make up for the scarcity, many employees are working overtime.

In an attempt to alleviate their labor shortage, Superintendent Jennifer Schiele proposed a $500 signing bonus for all employees hired before Dec. 31.

This bonus excludes new bus driver hires, as those individuals are employed by Student Transportation Authority rather than the district. However, it was noted during the meeting that STA will grant a $3,500 hiring bonus to new drivers.

In addition to the $500 signing bonus, Schiele proposed a reward of $750 for all current staff members who worked during the pandemic.

"Now as we enter into month 20 of COVID, it's even more important to continue to care for and bolster those who have gone above and beyond to make Lake Oswego's student learning possible. Our teachers and staff are at the heart of who we are, and we are committed to supporting them," she said. "These bonuses are intended to thank our current and future employees, from our custodians who work tirelessly to follow COVID cleaning protocols to keep our students safe in school to the teachers who found new ways to reach a classroom."

Both proposals need approval from the classified department. It should take about a week to sort out, according to Communications Director Mary Kay Larson.

Literature tackles belonging

In an effort to showcase more diverse voices in literature, Lakeyshua Washington, the district's executive director of curriculum and instruction, introduced six books the district hopes to implement in middle school settings. The books tackle an array of topics such as immigration, diabetes and Indigenous residential schools. The books are available for viewing at the Lake Oswego administrative office in the boardroom.

Board member Neelam Gupta praised the books.

"I think they're just going to enrich our curriculum so much, and really speak to our strategic priority of creating a culture of belonging," she said.

The board will meet next at 6 p.m. on Nov. 30.

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