Lake Oswego School Board approves boundary lines, discontinues current extended child care model
This story has been updated from its original version.
Although the school day was canceled due to a brief snowfall, the Lake Oswego School Board gathered Monday, April 11, for a meeting where members discussed changes to next year's schools such as boundary lines, curricula and extended child care programs.
Starting in fall 2023, about 100 new students will walk through the doors of Lake Grove Elementary School.
During the meeting, the school board approved new boundary lines for Oak Creek and Lake Grove elementary schools.
The district intended to revamp the boundary lines for the two primary schools to create balance as enrollment rates increase. Currently, Lake Grove has 350 students, while Oak Creek has 550; the district hoped to average out the student bodies to about 450 for each school.
For the past few months, the school district's appointed Boundary Review Committee worked with community members to decide the best course of action for this fall. The committee concluded that a boundary change referred to as Option Pink made the most sense.
This option moves parts of the Oak Creek zone into the Lake Grove area. About 103 students will be impacted after the boundary change. Oak Creek will shrink to 428 students, while Lake Grove will welcome 408 students in 2022.
Lake Grove will send out an orientation packet and will have resources to help students adjust to their new environment.
Bus depot update
Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Jennifer Schiele updated the board on the transportation facility plan. The school district announced back in January that it would be continuing a plan to move the district's transportation facility building to 6333 Lakeview Boulevard, which is a few blocks away from River Grove Elementary School.
Currently, the building is nestled behind Lake Grove Elementary School, but the site is not large enough to accommodate the personal vehicles of the bus drivers. According to the district, the new site will be able to accommodate all personal vehicles for maintenance staff, management staff and bus drivers.
However, the new location has received pushback from community members who live in that region. Some stated their concerns during previous public comments; most said that the facility will clog streets with traffic and create unnecessary noise in the usually quiet neighborhood.
Schiele announced during the board meeting that the district will hold another open house sometime in May to hear more community feedback about the relocation.
The open house will allow community members to meet with the administration in small group discussions.
"Our objectives with this meeting (are) to establish a new transportation facility that meets the needs of our school district and our community and reflect our strong intention to be very good neighbors," Schiele said.
The Transportation Facility Planning Team will submit its final plans for the relocation in June.
Revamp of extended care program
Schiele also announced that the district's Extended Day Program, which is a before- and after- school program for primary school children, will be canceled for the new academic year.
The program offers care for students within the district both before school starting at 7 a.m. and after school until 6 p.m. After reviewing the community needs assessment survey that was sent out to families this term, the district came to the "very clear" conclusion that it was not meeting the needs of families — especially those with elementary-level children, according to Schiele.
The main concern was that there were too many families wanting child care services, and not enough staff resources to meet the demand.
"So based on our own staff shortage and financial considerations that we've done, we've decided to discontinue our community schools' extended care program for next year," Schiele said.
The district's next steps are to submit a Request for Qualifications to other child care agencies that operate in local school districts.
"When we hear from our families, our hope is that we will have extended care in each of our elementary schools so we're able to better serve our families, not only in their own school, but (in) proximity to their homes and being able to have easy access for children to pick up and drop off," Schiele said.
The board and Schiele made it clear later on in the meeting that the extended care program is not going away, but the district will just adopt a new model that better serves families. The district will keep the community up to date as it moves through the process.
The current staff members working in the program will be transferred to other jobs in the district.
Tony Vandenberg, executive director of project management, proposed the approval of two companies that will help improve facilities in River Grove Elementary School as part of the district's ongoing bond work.
Bent Level Construction was approved to help the district remove the existing portable classrooms at River Grove. Vandenberg said Bent Level was the lowest responsive bidder with a base bid of $100,650.
The board also approved Northstar CG LP Contractors to remove hazardous modular materials that are securely placed in the school's boiler room in the form of insulation for $199,700. Vandenberg said the materials contain asbestos. When inhaled, asbestos can lead to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.
The hazardous materials are not of any danger to staff or students, but once disturbed during a situation like a demolition they become dangerous to those around. This removal process will happen during the summer when students or staff are not present.
Inclusive literature, Arab American Month
During the consent agenda, the board approved "How Much of these Hills is Gold" by C Pam Zhang to be part of next academic year's curriculum for ninth graders in the district.
The book also is the Lake Oswego Reads 2022 selection. It 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 board also officially declared it Arab American Appreciation Month in the school district. They invited Lake Oswego High School freshman class president Sarah Al Qirem to read the declaration and explain what the month means.
Al Qirem said the month acknowledges and celebrates the contributions that the diverse community of Arab Americans offers to the nation and the community. The class president then went off script to pay gratitude to the board and district for their celebration of the month.
"I'm so proud of our school district for acknowledging the existence of this month, and acknowledging my culture. I think it's important that we continue to honor all cultures," Al Qirem said.
The board will next meet at 6 p.m. Monday, April 25.
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