School board chairman notes obstacles overcome and successes along the way

I am excited to report that the school year has started with contagious energy and enthusiasm from our students, staff and parents. We have strategized and planned for two years to reconfigure our district and embrace the necessary changes to help maintain our core educational strategy: keeping first-class professional teachers in the classroom, surrounded by top-notch support staff.

Restructuring is never easy. But by all reports I have heard, our community embraced the challenge and we made it happen. Great effort was expended to implement our new planned two 9-12 high school, two 6-8 junior high and six K-5 elementary school configuration for this year. On behalf of the school board, I would like to thank the parents, teachers, staff, students and community members who made this transition possible, and for the countless hours spent planning and executing the plan for a great opening this year.

Due in large part to great community support for our LOSD Foundation campaign and our local option support, our class size ratios are some of the lowest in the state, and we are able to continue offering enriching arts opportunities, competitive athletic programs, extensive electives, and music, physical education, reading and math specialists. We are also pleased to report outstanding test scores by our students at all grade levels in all of our schools, which places our kids among the top students in Oregon as well as nationally.

We have an aggressive school board agenda this year. Key goals approved this summer by the board include implementing Oregon Education Investment Board initiatives with Common Core standards, developing data teams and a new licensed staff evaluation system, conducting demographic and real estate studies to help plan for future enrollment and the optimal long-term configuration and size of our 10 schools, conducting a search for a new superintendent to replace retiring Dr. (Bill) Korach in June 2014, negotiating new contracts for our employees and preparing for our local option levy renewal efforts for November 2013.

Another very important priority for our district is the development of a new comprehensive strategic plan and financial sustainability model. State funding for education is not getting any better and our costs continue to increase. We also have high expectations in this community to sustain the very best conditions for a successful educati ce for our children. The board and administration will be diligently working this fall on solutions to the financial challenges that never seem to end but must be addressed.

One thing that I know for sure is that we have a special and enviable community culture in Lake Oswego that values education.

I was fortunate to attend many back-to-school nights, welcome-back events and staff meetings in recent weeks, and to witness firsthand the positive and supportive environment at each of our schools that empowers our children to thrive and grow.

We have outstanding educators and staff, motivated kids, engaged parents and a supportive community. This is a great community, and I am more grateful for that every day. Please visit the LOSD website — — for more information about our district and our schools.

John Wendland, Lake Oswego is the chairman of the Lake Oswego School Board.

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