Lake Oswego residents urge school board to prohibit weapons on campus
Flynn Williams, a senior at Lakeridge High School, said they look for the closest exit out of instinct every time they walk into a classroom.
"I have grown up being told that guns on campus was my reality — at every new school, every new classroom, every year," Willams said.
At the Lake Oswego School Board meeting Monday, Dec. 13, Williams, along with other community members, spoke during the public comment period to encourage the district to approve Policy KGBB, otherwise known as Firearms Prohibited. The policy mirrors Senate Bill 544, which was passed earlier this year in Oregon and allows schools to prohibit firearms on campuses — including those covered by concealed carry licenses.
Another commenter, a parent of two and a children's psychologist, said that students need to feel safe to learn.
"As parents, educators, and administrators in Lake Oswego, our No. 1 job is to keep our students safe. But safety doesn't just mean saving lives. It includes the intangible feeling a student has knowing 'when I go to school, I will be protected.' Students who know they are safe, can learn," she said.
Later in the board meeting, the policy was approved by the board with no contest.
Tony Vandenberg, executive director of project management, presented updates on the 2017 school bond as well as tentative plans for the 2021 bond that was approved in November.
Palisades World Language School
The Palisades World Language School will be expanded to fit the growing enrollment, and the district selected Soderstrom Architects, a Portland company, to help design the space.
Vandenberg said the project will be divided between two summers to prevent students and staff from relocating while classes are in session. Next summer, the district will focus on the school's infrastructure, and the contracting team will replace all major electrical facilities. In summer 2023, restrooms, security and accessibility will be renovated to follow the design that soon will be modeled at all district schools.
The new design for Rivergrove Elementary was influenced by student input.
Vandenberg said he had multiple conversations with students, teachers and district leadership on what the new school should look like. The student feedback was emphasized, according to Vandenberg.
Over 200 current elementary students participated in a survey that told the design team what they liked and didn't like about their current school. Their comments were then incorporated into the team's design plan.
Vandenberg said the new school will have more "pockets" for children to read, more natural light, a larger library and a more accessible playground. There also will be more spaces for collaboration between teachers.
Students will test out the school's furniture and determine which types enhance their learning environment.
Lake Oswego High School
The secondary school will receive major updates as part of the 2017 school bond. The proposed project will revamp computer labs and culinary rooms with advanced technology. A coffee bar will be added, where students could potentially learn business skills.
"These spaces will host a number of things," Vandenberg said.
A house behind the school that was purchased by the district in 2017 will be converted to classrooms and storage for the high school. Hunger Fighter Oregon, the local organization that currently occupies the property, will be relocated to Uplands Elementary after the holiday break.
Lakeridge High School
Lakeridge High School will see similar updates. The culinary and computer labs will receive new technology to fit in with the school's curriculum, and the secondary school will have more outdoor classroom space.
More inclusive literature
The district's pilot novel project stemmed from a national literacy program called Windows and Mirror. The district began participating in the education framework in hopes of offering Lake Oswego students more opportunities to learn about themselves and others.
The novels are taught in classes throughout the district, and then after a year are evaluated for student engagement.
In the past few board meetings, Lakeysha Washington, the executive director of curriculum and instruction, has introduced more than 15 novels that were approved by the board. During the Dec. 13 board meeting, Washington introduced two more books that are intended for 11th and 12th graders.
"Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi is a historical novel that tells the story of two half-sisters post-slavery. "Know My Name," by Chanel Miller, is a memoir that captures the story of the Stanford University rape survivor. Miller spotlights rape culture, victim shaming and the flaws of the criminal justice systems.
The board will motion for approval of the books at its Jan. 10 board meeting, if there are no concerns from the community.
Updates to inclusive language
Teresa Sanchez, the equity, inclusion and access administrator, introduced potential definitions for the words "diversity," "equity," "inclusion," "access" and "anti-bias." Sanchez said these definitions are more in line with state legislation and would be Lake Oswego's definitions of these words. In letters to families or news releases, the specific words would be defined following the district's verbiage.
"We really felt that it's important that this common language that we're creating is clear, concise and coherent. We want there to be consistency across schools," Sanchez said.
Sanchez invited district community members to reflect on these words and jot down their definitions. At the Jan. 10 meeting, Sanchez will motion for approval and introduce the new words to the greater community.
The next board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 10.
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