On Monday, March 8, the Lake Oswego School Board met to discuss boundary lines, several inclusivity definition changes and other hot topics like the Ukraine-Russian conflict.
At the beginning of February, the Lake Oswego Boundary Review Committee began a process to draft new boundary lines for Lake Grove and Oak Creek elementary schools. The district intends to revamp the boundary lines on the two primary schools to create balance as enrollment rates increase. Currently, Lake Grove has 350 students, while Oak Creek has 550 — the district hopes to average the student bodies out to about 450 for each school.
The district invited community members to attend a set of three virtual meetings to keep up to date with the potential changes. After taking into consideration the community perspectives, Superintendent Jenniferr Schiele and the committee gathered during the March 8 board meeting to share their final recommendation.
The proposed boundary change, referred to as "Option Pink," moves parts of the Oak Creek zone into the Lake Grove area. About 103 students would be impacted after the boundary change. Oak Creek would shrink to 428 students, while Lake Grove would welcome 408 students next academic year.
Committee member Chandra Vallely said that during the review process, the team took into consideration impacts on socio-economic and diversity numbers as well as transportation impacts.
Vallely said they wanted to ensure that these factors were not significantly altered or putting any student at a disadvantage, and Option Pink presented the best course with these factors in mind. Vallely then outlined some of the transitional support to help students as they shift schools. Some highlights are in-person visits to Lake Grove, pen-pal projects with Lake Grove and Oak Creek students, and recruiting Oak Creek parents to serve on Lake Grove's parent-teacher committee.
The board will vote on the new boundary lines during the April 11 meeting.
Every Student Belongs and Freedom of Expression policies
The board also considered two changes related to inclusivity and equity definitions.
Schiele presented changes to Policy ACB — "Every Student Belongs." During the Dec. 13, 2021 meeting, the board mulled over changes to the policy and ultimately decided to revise the definition for "equity."
During the Monday meeting, Schiele presented the updated definition. Equity will be defined as: "Giving every member of our learning community the distinct opportunities, supports and resources they need to develop and thrive."
The school board approved.
Throughout the year, school board members and administration will review district policies to ensure they align with current practice and make alterations if they do not. During the March 8 board meeting, several policies were proposed for change.
LaKeyshua Washington, executive director of curriculum and instruction, presented proposed changes to Policy IGBHA — otherwise known as the Freedom of Expression policy. Washington proposed that the district alter verbiage in the policy to make it more inclusive to gender identity.
"(In the proposed policy) gender identity was removed … we removed 'his/her' and put in 'a,'" Washington said.
The board will consider approving the changes at the next meeting.
Board Chair Kirsten Aird started the meeting by expressing concern for the Ukraine-Russian conflict and the impacts it may have on parts of the Lake Oswego community.
"Now more than ever, we are having discussions tonight against a backdrop of a frightening war waging in Eastern Europe. It is affecting many students, many families, our coworkers, our neighbors or friends — both directly and indirectly. Communities halfway around the world are under fire tonight," she said. "On behalf of the board and administration, I want to express our deepest concern and sadness for the millions of innocent Ukrainians, whose lives will be forever altered, and too many lost by the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russia on their sovereign country."
She said she acknowledged families in Lake Oswego and neighboring communities who have loved ones who are caught in the conflict. She asked that the community lend kindness to these people.
The school district will provide educational information on its website and upcoming "The Current" newsletter to help families teach students about war and its impacts.
"The top priority of this board is to protect the wellbeing of our students, and to make every school a safe and welcoming place to learn, grow and be," Aird said. "We appreciate all of us embracing and furthering this mission. And we again ask that we hold this space for those in this world, and we lead with humanity and kindness in all the conversations we have tonight and forthcoming."
The board will next meet March 29 at 6 p.m.
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.