Lake Oswego School Board hears three Spanish Immersion expansion options
Lake Oswego school officials offered a timeline Monday for the bond-funded renovation of Uplands and Oak Creek elementary schools and suggested three possible options for housing a second strand of the district's Spanish Immersion program.
The Spanish Immersion discussion came just a week before a scheduled Town Hall-style meeting at Lakeridge High School, where several parents say they will ask the district to hold off on plans to implement the second strand in the 2018-19 school year.
"I'll be there to ask questions and express my concern over the School Board's decision to expand the Spanish Immersion program without having a suitable home for a new strand," Danielle Miller told The Review. "I'll be there to ask them to pause and allow our administration to focus on executing the repairs, upgrades and rebuilds of our schools."
The Town Hall, which has no set agenda, is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. in the Lakeridge High library.
School Board members signaled their intention to add a second strand of Spanish Immersion classes during a discussion between administrators and board members at an Oct. 9 meeting. At a School Board work session this week, Joe Morelock, the LOSD's assistant superintendent of academics and student services, presented three options identified by the administration as possible homes for the classes.
All of the options prompted an immediate outcry on social media, although Miller noted that the three ideas are not the only ones that the board is open to considering.
Each of the options presented Monday, though, include expanding the Spanish Immersion program for children in kindergarten and first grade in the 2018-19 school year. The strand would then extend through the grade levels in future years as the classes age and eventually continue into junior high.
The first option presented Monday night would house all Spanish Immersion classes at River Grove Elementary. "But they're at 550 students, and they're pretty much at capacity," Morelock said. "This would likely be the most disruptive to the community and the staff, because students would be immediately displaced" due to the addition of the kindergarten and first-grade classes.
The second option — to house the second strand at Lake Grove Elementary — would not immediately displace any kindergarten or first-grade students, Morelock said, although it has the potential to be disruptive as the classes advance through grade levels. According to Morelock, Lake Grove currently has one or two empty classrooms, but the program "would eventually require six."
"If you were to make a boundary adjustment effective in the 2020-21 school year," he said, "you could potentially be less disruptive" by strategically changing Lake Grove's attendance area.
The third, more complicated option is to house Spanish Immersion at Oak Creek Elementary. This option is more complex, Morelock said, because of the need to move students during planned renovations at Oak Creek. But he said the idea has its merits.
"Oak Creek has other kinds of areas," Morelock said, "other than classrooms, that are used for other purposes like break-out spaces" and could be used for Spanish Immersion students.
Morelock said the cost of the three options is comparable, and very low. "The students would have teachers assigned to them whether they were in Spanish Immersion or not," he said. "So there won't be a large cost difference."
Morelock also laid out a schedule at Monday night's meeting for upcoming renovations of Uplands and Oak Creek elementary schools, which will happen in succession.
Oak Creek students will be housed at Uplands for the 2019-20 school year while their school is being renovated, thanks to a voter-approved $187 million school bond measure. As a result, Morelock said, there is work that must be done at Uplands before the Oak Creek renovation can begin in order to make the space useable as a functioning elementary school.
Morelock said the district is now entering the planning phase of the projects, which involves determining where all of the programs now housed at Uplands will go. "All of those programs would be in new locations for the next school year," he said.
Morelock said that the district believes the most viable option is to move the majority of the programs to the Palisades building, which is currently being leased to the City of Lake Oswego's Parks and Recreation Department. Uplands currently houses many Community School classes, the district's strings program, drivers' education classes, Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings and more, Morelock said, so it will take time and careful planning to relocate everything.
"We're considering moving the strings program to one or both of the middle schools," he said, noting that the district is in the very preliminary planning stages.
The Uplands remodel is scheduled to be complete by June 2019 so that it will be ready for Oak Creek students in the 2019-20 school year, Morelock said. The renovation of Oak Creek would then take place during that school year, with the goal of returning Oak Creek students to their completed school for the 2020-21 school year.
Randy Miller, the district's executive director of project management, told the board that his team plans to use a single contractor for both remodels to ensure a seamless and on-time transition.
IF YOU GO
What: LOSD Town Hall
When: 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.
Where: Lakeridge High School library, 1235 Overlook Drive
Note: The district says the event will be "a facilitated discussion in which all topics are welcome."