The Lake Oswego School Board convened Monday, May 9 to discuss a new transportation center, look over updates to the new River Grove Elementary School, welcome new student representatives and vote on the addition of new bleachers at Lake Oswego High School.
Transportation Center open house
Superintendent Jennifer Schiele announced that the district will hold a community open house to discuss plans for the new transportation facility at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, at Lakeridge Middle School.
The school district announced earlier this year that it would be continuing a plan to move the district's transportation facility building — which houses school buses — to 6333 Lakeview Boulevard, which is a few blocks from River Grove Elementary School.
According to Schiele, the district has updated plans for the new facility and hopes to share them with the community in an open-dialogue format.
"(This will be) an opportunity to present this new information that we've received, and how that is going to be reflected about our plans," Schiele said.
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, who said that the facility will clog streets with traffic and create unnecessary noise in the usually quiet neighborhood.
River Grove design update
During the May 9 meeting, Executive Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg provided updates on the new River Grove Elementary School. As part of the 2017 school bond, the school will be demolished and built new from the ground up.
To make this a learning environment that fits the needs of the school, the district reached out to students and staff at River Grove to collect ideas on what they would want to see in the reimagined school.
Vandenberg outlined how some of those needs would be met. Some ideas that will be implemented include shorter hallways to cultivate a more connected campus and more "nooks" for students to read and socialize in.
Vandenberg also said many students and staff shared the importance of being surrounded by nature. The new building will have views of large "established" trees (which are either pre-existing or will be planted as part of the project) from most classrooms. There will also be multiple outdoor learning zones and accessible playgrounds.
The campus is also built for resiliency, and Vandenberg said the new school will act as a place for refuge in the case of a disaster.
Some community members have expressed concern with the design plans, specifically regarding the uprooting of a tree that has lived on the campus for many years. The tree is currently located where the new gymnasium will go. The district is currently conducting an extended study to explain the rationale of why this tree is proposed for removal.
"We are planting 1000s of plants, hundreds of trees for this project. We've worked really hard to enhance the growth of trees," said Vandenberg.
The district team is approximately 60% through the final phase of the design process. The district has submitted the project for land use permitting and the Lake Oswego Development Review Commission hearing is scheduled for May 16. Site work is estimated to begin in mid-June of this year and the team will complete the official building design early this fall.
The estimated finish date for the school is May 2024. Staff and students will start school in the new building in the fall of 2024-2025.
Welcoming new student representatives
In a passing of the torch, the current student representatives on the school board, Alicia Li and Emily Zou, introduced and welcomed the new representatives that will join the board starting in the fall of 2022.
Jacob Stuckey is an incoming sophomore at Lakeridge High School who currently serves as the 9th grade class president and will serve as a class officer starting in the fall.
"Jacob is a kind and compassionate young man who has a deep concern for the students of Lakeridge and a true commitment to represent them in any way he can," Zou said.
Stuckey was selected because through his short educational career, he has already established himself as a leader who sees all sides of an issue and how its solution can impact his peers positively.
Samantha Jarquin will represent Lake Oswego High School. Jarquin, an incoming junior, is a member of Respond to Racism's Youth Empowerment Committee and the Latino Hispanic Student Union.
"Samantha has many qualities that make her an excellent candidate for school board, including being collaborative, (finding) value in listening to others, (and being) reliable and driven to help support necessary change," Li said.
During the interview process, Jarquin stood out to Principal Kristen Colyer because of her commitment to making sure that all voices at the high school are represented and heard.
"Great representation this year, and I'm excited to carry on the tradition," said board member John Wallin.
Lake Oswego High School bleacher purchase
Vandenberg asked the board to approve the purchase of new bleachers at Lake Oswego High School, which will be funded through a donation.
Charlie Cobb, a Lake Oswego resident who has made several donations to the Lake Oswego High School over the years (including the stadium cover), will donate the $354,375 needed to purchase the bleachers.
The new bleachers will seat about 700 people at each game and replace the visitor bleachers that were added to the school four years ago.
Bleachers can have structural component failures after a certain amount of years, and Oregon weather may rush that timeline according to Vandenberg. The new bleachers offer more accessibility features as well as other improvements.
The board asked about bleachers at other schools, specifically Lakeridge High School. Vandenberg said the district plans to replace those bleachers as well but will wait until the completion of the baseball field at the high school to ensure they have leftover funding. The permit process for Lakeridge is a bit more lengthy than other schools because of the "nature of that site and the proximity to the neighborhoods," according to Vandenberg.
Chair Kirsten Aird voted no because only one high school would see improvements.
"I'm going to say no because I don't like perpetuating the consistent differences. And I know that's unpopular. I like to see plans that come with something a little more equalized," Aird said. "I would like to see more concerted efforts coming forward with a little bit more equal balance on how we do this on both sides. It's not alright."
Yet because the majority voted yes, the motion passed. The bleachers will be added before the fall of 2024.
The school board will next meet at 6 p.m. May 11 for a legal budget committee meeting. The next regular board meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 23.
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