West Linn-Wilsonville School Board celebrates new staff, discusses gender-neutral bathrooms
The West Linn-Wilsonville School Board met Monday, Sept. 12, for the first official meeting of the 2022-23 academic year.
Superintendent Kathy Ludwig provided the board and community with updates on the new primary school that will be located on Frog Pond property — specifically around designing bathrooms.
Due to community feedback she has received and confusion around what the stalls will look like, Ludwig outlined the design process for the proposed gender-neutral restrooms that will go in the primary school.
The new bathroom plan comes from a federal expectation that all students have access to a restroom that fits their gender identity and comfort. As the district works through the design process, Ludwig said community and student feedback has been at the forefront.
The district held a listening session in November, where around 150 people provided feedback about the bathroom designs.
"What we heard is that not everyone agrees about bathrooms, and that's no surprise," Ludwig said.
Families spoke about the need for privacy and security. The district then collected this feedback and worked it into its design.
Ludwig said that the primary school's bathrooms will have floor-to-ceiling stalls with some gapping at the bottom to follow safety and security protocols. The new school will have gender-assigned restrooms as well as gender-neutral options, similar to what is available at Inza R. Wood Middle School in Wilsonville. Students will have communal sinks in both options for restrooms and an open concept from the bathrooms to hallways for teachers to supervise students.
"We wanted to make sure that privacy didn't compromise safety," Ludwig said.
The district has followed up with Wood Middle School staff and students about the gender-neutral restrooms that have been in place for over a year, and Ludwig said they received positive feedback.
"Students have said they are grateful for gender-neutral (options) while others said they like having gender-assigned bathrooms," she said.
Ludwig reiterated that the restroom design is still in process, and the district will continue to take community feedback and rework the space.
Welcoming new faces
The board met new faces, like the district's student reporters who introduced themselves during the meeting.
Wilsonville High School senior Elijah "Eli" Sievers and West Linn High School senior Sky Gomes will attend each school board meeting and provide an update on what is happening at each campus.
The students started their introductions with updates about the first couple of weeks of school, from homecoming preparations to sports.
Nic Chapin will update the board on updates for Riverside High School, where he will serve as the principal when it opens in 2023. Chapin, who formerly worked as the principal of Arts & Technology High School, provided the board with some construction updates for the new campus.
Chapin said branding logos and school colors (black, gray and purple) are in the process of being added around the school. The high school also is preparing to have the district's first International Baccalaureate program.
This summer, a total of seven new school principals joined the district. The board met and welcomed the new leadership.
"There's always a little bit of trepidation when a beloved principal says they're retiring or relocating. You think, 'How do you find that next person to fill those shoes to connect with the community and have those relationships?' But through each of the interview processes, it became really clear that we were finding that right person who brought their own set of shoes to create an amazing legacy," Ludwig said.
The school board will meet for a work session at 5:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19.
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