School board revisits pool issue as new year approaches
The Lake Oswego School Board held a brief meeting Monday, Aug. 19 to receive updates from the Bond Accountability Committee and Superintendent Lora de la Cruz.
Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg and BAC member Scott Emmett provided the board with an update on bond projects. The presentation was largely focused on the new Lakeridge Middle School and pool projects, and the next steps in public outreach.
The pool will be partially funded by the bond passed by voters in May 2017 — $7 million was allocated for the project — but the district needs to secure more funding in order to build a pool that meets the needs of its users. The LOSD indicated last year that Lakeridge Middle School would be the best place to put the pool, but has since changed course. "The school board has indicated that as we move forward with the planning phase of the project we may explore the possibilities of a different location," LOSD Communication Director Christine Moses said.
Board member Kirsten Aird asked if the information that has come out thus far may have confused people about the potential location and size of the pool, and wanted to clarify district messaging about the pool "sooner rather than later."
Vandenberg said that "we may not be communicating as much as we could," and that he would work on improving that going forward. He also acknowledged the funding challenges of the future pool. "As far as the pool, the language is pretty clear," he said. "There is a desire to have a new pool, and we don't have the money."
Vandenberg said that the upcoming hiring of an architectural firm will help navigate potential partnerships, including with the City of Lake Oswego. The recently approved parks bond will provide the City with an additional $30 million worth of funding trickling in over the next 20 years for acquisition of open space, renovating existing facilities and capital improvement. Over the past several month, parks staff and the Lake Oswego Parks and Natural Resources Advisory Board have been discussing priorities and hosting public outreach events to gain as much feedback as possible.
The City Council will meet Sept. 3 to review the recommendations by the parks board, at which point the district will likely have a much clearer answer of the City's interest in a partnership.
At a Pool Task Force meeting last December, aquatic facilities consultant Ken Ballard estimated that a pool that would please all of its users — or Lake Oswego's "dream" pool — would cost up to $25 million to build.
At the school board meeting, board chair Rob Wagner said it was unlikely that the dream pool will materialize. "I do not believe that this board, nor the district, is set on what the scope of the pool will be. Our commitment is to our students in an athletics facility, and we are building a pool that meets those needs," he said. "A lot of us like to think the City would be a good partner, but we are under a time constraint. I don't think there's the expectation in the community that we're going to be building some grand facility."
Superintendent de la Cruz reiterated that the district is waiting to get a better idea of the City Council's position. "We are in a bit of gap," she said, adding that the district would soon be able to better "assess what our assets are." De la Cruz also acknowledged that "it can be a frustrating experience for our community and users."
De la Cruz also provided the board with an update on her work over the last two weeks and celebrated the people who have made her transition smooth.
She has been busy meeting with various groups in the district, including the LO Schools Foundation and the Student Services Parent Advisory Group (SSPAC).
De la Cruz said SSPAC members told her very compelling stories about their experiences in the district, and she is ready to move forward with improving opportunities for different types of learners. "We are moving forward with an action plan to be responsive to dyslexia," she said. "We will be building an educational pathway linked to our general education pathway."
She said that Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele will be gathering focus groups of parents, licensed and classified staff to further assess
the needs of the district and shape district thinking moving forward. De la Cruz also hopes to create a board-appointed committee for the same reason.
De la Cruz also shared another way she's moving the district forward. She thanked LOSD's Human Resources Director Donna Atherton for embracing her direction to hire more people of color in the district. "We have made over 100 hires in this session," she said. "We had a focus on equity,
and looking to diversity our staff."
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