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Finding equitable ways to use funds the subject of sessions hosted by the district

An issue at the front of school district officials' minds throughout the country is equity — serving students, teachers and their families in ways that provide equal opportunity for all and lift up those in potentially underserved communities.

The Newberg School District has been listening to the community's ideas on how to equitably apply funds from a recently passed $141 million school bond, hosting input sessions on how to make sure upcoming construction projects are completed through an equity lens.

"We've had seven sessions so far with staff, students and families," said district communications coordinator Gregg Koskela. "There's going to be a lot of different ways we can achieve equity through implementing this bond. When you listen to people give their perspectives, you realize they all have unique and interesting ways of looking at these spaces and how they can be equitable.

"Our student session was just fantastic. They recognized needs for people with disabilities and other groups much quicker even than their adult counterparts, and their feedback has been great in those sessions. It really makes you optimistic about the next generation."

Things like making front doors accessible to those in wheelchairs and redesigning schools in lower-income areas were among the topics discussed, and Koskela said the district will take everything they hear into account when working with BRIC Architecture on the various bond projects.

At the end of each session, the district invited community members to be part of the design committee for projects at their respective schools. More information on that front will be posted on the district website in coming weeks.

"With all these things, you have multiple irons in the fire, so we're working a lot on the general stuff like info sessions," Koskela said. "We're working with BRIC on hammering out our maintenance list and mapping out everything in all of our buildings, figuring out what we can get done this summer in time for students' return in the fall."

BRIC and the district are eyeing this summer to begin some of the construction work, including resurfacing parking lots and replacing HVAC units in schools. The largest project of all on the bond agenda is a full replacement of Dundee Elementary, which Koskela said will take approximately 18 months.

District officials originally eyed a CPRD property for the new building's location, but they found it wasn't large enough and are looking instead at two parcels of land along the riverside development area. News on where the school is slated to be built should come in the coming weeks or months, Koskela said.

For more information on the school bond, the process for applying it, and the information gathered at equity input sessions, visit www.newberg.k12.or.us


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