Lake Oswego School Board talks inclusive literature, elementary boundary lines
In a short and sweet meeting, the Lake Oswego School Board convened Tuesday, March 29 to discuss boundary lines, inclusive literature and bond sale updates.
In early 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.
After taking into consideration the community perspectives, Superintendent Jennifer 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.
During the March 29 board meeting, the board and district allowed one more opportunity for families and community members to share their thoughts.
Eleven people submitted written or public comments about the boundary lines.
One parent who spoke in person said they could not support this plan at the moment because their youngest daughter is in the gifted program and has an Individual Education Plan (IEP), which is designed to support students with different types of acute learning needs.
"We have dealt with this (boundary lines shuffle) and we have collectively dealt with COVID-19 and all of the issues with home learning and going back. One thing that is important in the IEP is the stability of a learning environment — which we have not had. We are finally getting to that …and we are seeing cognitive growth and positive social interactions and our biggest concern is moving to a different school. She would not only have to start all over with a network of friends, a support network with the staff — we'd go back to a ground zero position," said the parent.
A final vote will take place during the April 11 school board meeting.
LaKeyshua Washington, executive director of curriculum and instruction, presented some of the proposed elementary and secondary school curricula for language arts and world language courses across the district.
Since 2019, the district has embarked on a process to take a critical look at the district's language arts curriculum and revamp it to match the current needs of students. This was done through independent research, curriculum mapping and communication with parents, students and teachers.
The proposed curriculum would introduce lesson plans and learning tools that better align with the school district's strategic plan to be inclusive and equitable, and prioritize a student's growth.
"It is our work charge to ensure we provide each student with what they need to thrive academically and socially," said Washington.
One of the main recommendations for a revamped curriculum is a literature selection that is culturally relevant to children and will build knowledge and critical thinking skills beyond the book's text using the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt approach. This curriculum is designed to inspire K-12 literacy lesson plans that amplify children's love for reading and communication skills.
Some of the proposed literature in the curriculum is "Bamboo People" by Mitali Perkins for sixth graders. The book is a coming-of-age story that follows a refugee and child soldier in the backdrop of modern day Myanmar. Other middle school students might read books like "Buried Onions" by Gary Soto, which tells the story of a 19-year-old Mexican-American teenager, Eddie, who lives in poverty in Fresco, California. The story captures the themes of perseverance and opens readers' eyes to different life circumstances.
For high schoolers, classrooms would adopt a curriculum that follows what is referred to as the McGraw Hill approach because of its rigor and relevance to teenagers. With the proposed curriculum, high schoolers may read books on immigration and identity, or classics like "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. The novel tells the story of women's oppression and intersectionality.
The curriculum will be available for public review through April 15, 2022.
Washington also presented another book as part of the "secondary pilot novels project." The district's pilot novel project stemmed from a national literacy program called Windows and Mirror. The district began participating in the education framework with the hope of offering Lake Oswego students more opportunities to learn about themselves and others.
Washington said the goal of the proposed books is to "ensure and explore individual identity that broadens student perspectives and dismantles stereotypes." She introduced "How Much of These Hills is Gold" by C Pam Zhang — which is also the Lake Oswego Reads 2022 selection.
Zhang's debut novel follows the story of two recently orphaned children of immigrants on the run, while also educating readers about the Chinese American experience during the gold rush. The plot is inspired by Zhang's childhood of moving homes often with her family.
The book was proposed for ninth graders and will be up for approval at the next board meeting.
Bond sale update
Executive Director of Finance Stuart Ketzler, provided the board with a brief school bond update.
Ketzler announced that rising interest rates will impact the net proceeds from the bond's first sale. This will impact the overall property tax rate increase, but it is still expected to be within the maximum increase of 92 cents per $1,000 of the assessed value estimate shared during the informational campaign.
The morning after the board meeting, on March 30, Ketzler met with investors, and pricing will be finalized and announced at a later date.
The board will next meet at 6 p.m. April 11.
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