Thanks due across the board for aiding schools
I am writing to say thank you to everyone who has shown their support for the LOSD schools: the mayor, city council, donors to the foundation, LO teachers, administration and the school board.
The city council has promised $2 million. John Stirek, foundation chair, announced that fundraising efforts have already reached $2 million and are on track to hit $2.5 million this year. This includes a near doubling in giving from parents of elementary-age children, evidencing the fact that these families are seeking an alternative to Scenario B and they are voting with their pocketbooks.
Scenario B is far too drastic for the budget problem we face, puts virtually all of the pain of our budget problem on the backs of our youngest children and while it was originally positioned as a way to save teaching positions, the reduction in available classrooms is actually going to increase class sizes and result in many teaching positions being eliminated.
At the last school board meeting Chair Curt Sheinin wisely requested the consolidation committee to evaluate a single-school closure option on the south side of the lake with no further closures to follow. With this solution, the early retirement program, contract negotiations and budget planning activities over the next two months, we can balance our budget for the biennium and maintain our quality.
The district released its Phase 3 Strategic Planning Recommendations and it was revealed that Scenario B results in more teacher reductions than the no school closure option. Despite prior district communication positioning Scenario B as a choice between buildings or teachers, this document makes clear that Scenario B will result in more teaching staff reductions than will occur under the no school closure option. The district is proposing to eliminate 8 elementary classroom teachers and 1.5 reading and math teachers under Scenario B and twice as many educational assistants as a no school closure plan. So … Scenario B does not in fact enable the district to protect teaching positions.
To date 27 teachers have voluntarily retired, which will bring in significant cost savings to the district without any change to net teaching positions (e.g. the district plans to hire back a more junior teaching professional at an annual savings for each senior teacher that just retired). This will yield first year savings of $270,000 and recurring annual savings of $540,000.
The outlook for the Lake Oswego School District has shifted from doom and gloom back to the beacon of the Oregon system. A one school closure plan will cut the remaining 'fat' from our budget and save $1.2 million without losing valuable programming or effecting class sizes. While school districts all over the state are being severely affected by decreased state funding, our district has the opportunity to enhance our position as the strongest district in the state and continue to attract families from out of district moving to Lake Oswego for our strong schools.
A one school closure is good for this district and the citizens of Lake Oswego. Supporting this plan means that you are for buildings and teachers and a healthy and sustainable Lake Oswego.
Heidi Schrimsher is a resident of Lake Oswego.