Plan includes closing 3 schools, reconfiguring junior highs

The implementation of Scenario B is on target and well within its financial budget. The Lake Oswego School Board received an update on the transition process during its work session held prior to its Tuesday morning meeting.

Scenario B is the district's phased plan to bridge budget gaps and address continuing financial shortfalls.

The plan entails the closure of three elementary schools and the reconfiguration of the junior highs into middle schools.

'We are focusing our energy on the implementation of Scenario B,' said School Board Chair John Wendland. 'It's going to take a lot of time and resources. This district has to make B happen and do it well.'

The plan got under way at the end of the school year with the closure of Palisades Elementary School. Uplands and Bryant elementary schools will close next year; and the middle school will begin at the start of the 2012-13 year. Bryant is scheduled to be reconfigured as part of the new Waluga Middle School.

As part of the closing of Palisades, boundaries were redrawn with students being split between Westridge and Hallinan.

The transition of staff and principals from Palisades to other schools was a complicated process.

Jonnie Shobaki, director of elementary education, said the principals, teachers and parents all got together to talk about the transition and that everyone was considered in the moves.

'We let principals tell us what would work best,' she said. The district gave teachers extra time to work together and tried to move teachers with their students to maintain some continuity. Palisades parents could also request which school they wanted their children to attend.

Shobaki added that even the PTOs and PTAs worked together to make the transition as smooth as possible. Parents also began receiving the newsletters of the schools they were reassigned to.

'The idea of creating a new culture is very much alive,' said Shobaki. 'The principals, the teachers, the parents, they really made the difference.'

The largest undertaking in the transition process this summer was moving the 35 staff members from Palisades. In all, there were moves in seven of the elementary schools.

The Palisades library also had to be dealt with. Its 14,000 items were cataloged and then redistributed to other schools that could use the books. The computer lab went through a similar process.

In preparation for more students at Westridge, the district installed doors on the classrooms to help control noise. That project cost about $15,000, according to Stuart Ketzler, executive director of finance.

The district budgeted $70,000 for the elementary transition this summer.

'We are going to come in less than anticipated,' said Ketzler.

The district also incurred $35,000 of expenses in other capital projects and around $10,000 associated with moving staff.

Busing routes also had to be adjusted to accommodate the Palisades students. The district was able to accomplish this without having to add any more routes, saving the district money.

'We are exactly where we had hoped to be operationally and financially,' said Superintendent Bill Korach.

As of the school board meeting, the district had 110 classes of first through sixth grade. Projected class sizes are 23-25 students per class for first and second; 25-30 for third and fourth; and 25-30 for fifth and sixth.

'Our next move is a bigger move, moving those sixth graders out,' said Shobaki.

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