Lake Oswego School District redesigns bus routes, provides updates on after-school care
On Monday, Aug. 15, the Lake Oswego School Board met to discuss the upcoming school year, the bus driver situation and a shortage impacting the district's after-school program.
School bond work
Filling in for Superintendent Jennifer Schiele, who was out of town, Director of Communications Mary Kay Larson updated the district and community on three factors impacting the upcoming school year — starting with bond work.
The River Grove Elementary School student and staff population have moved over to the former Uplands Elementary School, where they will spend the entire year. River Grove is one of the 2021 school bond projects; the school will be demolished and built from the ground up.
Larson said the district's bond team is "on track" for phase one, which involves clearing and bringing down parts of the building's exterior.
The estimated finish date for the school is May 2024. Staff and students will start classes in the new building in fall of 2024-25 school year.
Students at Lakeridge Middle School will notice new solar panels at the school, also part of the 2021 school bond. Lakeridge High School has a new roof, and both Lakeridge and Lake Oswego High School now will have their own culinary, career and technology classrooms this fall.
Oak Creek Elementary School received the finishing touches on its inclusive playground. The jungle gym will be used as an example and test site for the district staff to see if this model can work at other schools.
Program staff shortages
Third-party providers Champions and CampFire, which rent out space in the school district to provide before- and after-school care, are experiencing a staff shortage. The loss of staff meant some families who initially had a spot in one of the programs are now on a waitlist temporarily.
The providers have told the school district that they have a "pipeline of candidates" and hired new staff members. However, the new hires will not be able to start working just yet, as they are still undergoing background checks.
"We know that families have been put in a very difficult situation with school starting soon, and we are pressing them to be creative and use their resources in providing the care families are counting on," Larson read from Schiele's superintendent report.
Frank Luzach, executive director of elementary programs, said the child care providers had been "aggressive" from the start to find solutions to their staff shortages, such as increasing signing bonuses and rate of pay.
New bus routes unveiled
In June, the school district gave its contracted bus company, Students Transportation of America, permission to redesign its bus route map.
During the 2021-22 academic year, the school district experienced a bus driver shortage — a problem seen across the nation. The shortage caused buses to run late to and from school.
The school district found solutions throughout the year, like Schiele and other staff members driving buses to pick up kids. This year, they hope preplanning will help them in the long run.
Larson confirmed that STA has drivers for all of the routes they have designed, as well as drivers who are on loan from other districts. Others in the pipeline are completing their applications and undergoing necessary training.
"Compared to last year, the number of interested applicants is much more encouraging," Larson said.
The new routes will be available for community viewing Friday, Aug. 19, and families can choose the stop that works best for them.
This year, STA will only use official pickup areas and not customized spots that families request their child to be picked up from. This change was made because these customized spots are known to slow down bus times and cause traffic disruption.
Students can meet their bus drivers at this year's Smart Start event Thursday, Aug. 25.
Pay hike for substitutes
During a June school board meeting, the district increased substitute teacher pay to $202 per day. This was based on guidance from the Oregon Department of Education, which established that school districts must have a minimum daily rate of $201.01 per day.
However, after looking into other districts and their pay rates for substitute teachers, Human Resources Director Donna Atherton recommended Monday that their pay be increased to $220 per day, with the long-term substitute teacher rates to remain at the $240 per day rate approved at the June 21 meeting.
Further, as an additional incentive to attract and retain substitute teachers, the district will now increase the second tier of substitute teacher pay.
"Years ago, when we first started experiencing a substitute shortage, we (added) an extra pay period where if you worked 10 days (or more) you received $8 more a day, and we would like to move that to an extra $10 a day," Atherton said.
The extra $8 per day was first added in 2015 in response to an improving economy.. Substitute teachers must have worked 30 days or more in the district to qualify for the extra $10.
The board approved it.
The school board received training from a Portland-based consultant firm, Engage to Change, on building relationships necessary to create a foundation for anti-racism work within the school district. The training taught school board members and staff about structures that benefit white people and cultivating relationships, among other topics.
The school board will meet next at 6 p.m. on Aug. 30
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