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Looking ahead

School district eyes a busy year

With a jam-packed schedule and numerous projects on the horizon, Lake Oswego School District school board members are gearing up for one of the busiest - and most promising - years to date.

'We have several things on the agenda that will make a great deal of difference to the future of the district,' said Superintendent Bill Korach.

Last week, the board approved a detailed list of priorities for the 2006-2007 school year that board members and Korach will share with administrators and association presidents in the upcoming weeks.

The board began working on the priorities three months early to ensure enough time to work on other administrative duties through the summer.

'We've got some things that could be huge pluses for us,' Korach said. 'The challenge is to make them reality … Time management is going to be very important.'

Districtwide contract negotiations begin in February, which involve the renewal of all employee group contracts and constant input from the board.

'That will take a great deal of time due to the preparation and bargaining,' Korach said.

A legislative session in January has significant implications for the district, depending on the amount of funding the district receives and any adjustments the district will make based on the decision.

The 2006-2007 school year marks one of the best years for school staffing, due to additional funds from the Legislature and nearly $2 million raised by the Lake Oswego School District Foundation.

The board hopes to raise enough funds next spring through the Legislature and foundation to retain the 16 additional teachers brought into the district this fall.

'There are high stakes for us next year,' Korach said. 'It's going to take a tremendous continued planning effort for us this year. We need to realize the benefits if we're fortunate and minimize the damage if we're not.'

Additionally, the board seeks to place emphasis on major programs, including the professional development of teachers, renewing the English curriculum at the secondary level and jump-start a major study of the district's Talented and Gifted program.

Korach is especially enthusiastic about the launch of the 'Raising Minds' program that aims to help parents work with the intellectual development of their children.

'It has the potential for high return,' he added.

Figure in meetings to continue the establishment of 'Respectful Culture' in Lake Oswego schools coupled with an upcoming school board election, and that means a mighty workload is in store for the board.

'Once September starts, you're in it … I don't know if there's a night when we're not focused on one of those areas,' Korach said. 'This is a time when we want to move in a direction that will strengthen us.'