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Thanks for supporting schools

One of our goals as your Lake Oswego School Board is to communicate with our city residents. We will periodically submit updates throughout the year on important information through this column.

While the school year is well under way and our students are in the full mode of learning now, we have many things to be thankful for as a district and community. Our students continue to soar with respect to state testing standards, SAT/ACT testing scores and high graduation rates. All of our schools received an outstanding rating from the state even while the standards were raised. Our small class sizes and diverse course offerings are among the best in the state.

All this would not be possible without generous city and community support. In our most challenging financial times, we needed help beyond our normal channels. The city of Lake Oswego helped bridge the budget gap, the business community stepped forward alongside our families and helped our School Foundation raise record amounts of money to retain teachers and district employees contributed by freezing wages this year and contributing more towards benefits. Together, everyone helped to make a positive difference for our community.

As we strategically plan for next year and navigate our way through the financial challenges of another year of constricted budgets, our school district will undertake the most extensive reorganization in our history. Known as Plan 'B,' we will be implementing phase two of the reconfiguration plan approved by the board last spring. Phase one closed Palisades Elementary this past summer. Phase two will close Uplands Elementary and re-purpose Bryant Elementary as part of the new middle school model we will adopt for Lake Oswego Junior High and Waluga Junior High. Sixth graders will move from elementary to middle school and our six remaining elementary schools will have kindergarten through fifth grade.

Reorganizations are not easy, but this one is necessary. Based on enrollment reports and facility studies, Plan 'B' makes sense. We will be able to better utilize our facilities, save on overhead and keep more teachers in the classroom. This strategy will also provide more opportunities for our sixth graders as they move to middle school. Long term, the board feels our challenging financial picture will not change. In fact, we will be asking the community for continued financial support to bridge the budget gap next year. We need to remain financially conservative and fiscally prudent, yet we must maintain the challenging academic program we currently have. Our community values education but expects outstanding results. Together, we can make it happen and provide the children of Lake Oswego with opportunities for their future.

Again, thanks to everyone who supports our schools. We value your contributions and appreciate the spirit and collaboration of our community to help sustain our district during these financial challenges. We look forward to sharing more stories in coming editions.

Lake Oswego School Board, including Chair John Wendland, Linda Brown, Teri Oelrich, Patti Zebrowski and Bob Barman.