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Facilities report offers board another look at options for addressing deferred maintenance

School building repairs, real estate sales on the table as district considers November bond measure


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: LAKE OSWEGO SCHOOL DISTRICT - Part of the Facilities Advisory Committee's recent report on local elementary school facility issues was a capital opportunity cost analysis, a combination of land value and maintenance costs.Where should the Lake Oswego School District spend its money when it begins to repair elementary and junior high schools, and what factors should be considered when district officials think about selling buildings?

Those were among the questions school board members faced at a work session Monday, when the Facilities Advisory Committee — a temporary panel of experts in architecture, construction and engineering — shared details of a report intended to help the board decide where to start with $24.11 million in deferred maintenance, which six elementary school buildings it should keep and which three should be sold.

Building maintenance in the district has been deferred for years, the result of a decision during the Great Recession to address a budget shortfall and focus on paying for the needs of staff and students. Now, the district has been told, it will need to deal with the backlog of repairs — much of it within five years and all within 10 years.

Committee member Mark Heizer told the board that the level of required maintenance after so many years is like a 100,000-mile overhaul for a car.

“For many schools, we’re still at the point where we need new timing belts; we’re still at the point where we need new tires,” Heizer said.

Putting a school capital construction bond on the ballot in November could help the district pay for those repairs.

WENDLANDBoard member John Wendland said it appears the district “will have to go to a bond” to have enough money to pay for repairs, but he said the bond needs to be vetted properly to ensure that the right fixes are made and a clear plan is laid out.

To help the board do that, the advisory committee’s report included a calculation called “capital opportunity cost,” which adds together the estimated costs of deferred maintenance and the land value for each of the six current and three former elementary schools.

(Bryant, Uplands and Palisades all were closed to help the district save money — savings that equal about $1.5 million per year, according to Stuart Ketzler, executive director of finance. All three schools now are being used for other purposes; Bryant, for example, is Lakeridge Junior High’s sixth-grade campus.)

The “capital opportunity cost” is intended to be “an indication of costs that can be avoided and the value that can be derived from a site” if it is sold or relinquished through other means. The information is “just another tool for the board to use,” committee member Scott Emmett said, because any decision about which school sites should be declared surplus is a complicated one.

Nevertheless, the committee found that Oak Creek Elementary’s “capital opportunity cost” was the highest at $14 million, while Uplands’ was the lowest at $6.43 million.

“Since the capital opportunity at Uplands is significantly less than the capital opportunity at both Lake Grove ($10.1 million) and Oak Creek,” the report said, “LOSD should give consideration to reopening Uplands and closing either Lake Grove or Oak Creek. Additional factors will need to be considered, such as the use of parts of Uplands by (Lake Oswego Junior High), but all three of these schools are fairly close in size.”

Because of the consolidation of elementary schools, there has been “a shortage of elementary classroom space and some space shortages at Lake Oswego Junior High School,” according to the advisory committee’s report. So schools also were ranked on “relative ability and space to accommodate additional classrooms.” The highest-ranked schools were Uplands, Forest Hills and Lake Grove on the north side, and Hallinan, Westridge and Bryant on the south side.

The report noted that some schools already are fairly large, and that the total cost of expansion was not factored in.

The advisory committee’s report is one of many tools the board has at its disposal as it ponders closures and expansions, including other reports that cover maintenance.

Last year, for example, the board received the results of a study of real estate values and needed repairs that documented water damage at Oak Creek Elementary and expanding soil at Lakeridge Junior High and Bryant Elementary. More in-depth studies recommended “essentially removing the whole building” to fix Oak Creek, to the tune of $5.2 million.

At the LJHS-Bryant campus, the soil expands when rains come and contracts when it dries, which is causing buildings to crack in places. The in-depth studies suggested replacement of the building within 10 years, possibly within 20 if proper maintenance is done to keep the building in decent shape.

BARMANFor further guidance on real estate matters, the Facilities Advisory Committee suggested creating a project manager position to guide property decisions. The committee also recommended appointing a standing, long-term facilities panel as well as establishing a permanent Facilities Advisory Committee.

Officially prioritizing what to repair and what a bond measure would pay for are still topics that are in their infancy. For now, board member Bob Barman said he appreciates the work the expert panel did to bring forward their recommendations and the superintendent’s efforts to put the panel together.

“I think what you saw (Monday) was the kind of work that needs to go into making a decision on facilities,” Barman said. “It was a great, great start, and Dr. (Heather) Beck needs to be congratulated on it for bringing those community-minded volunteers (on the committee) into it.”

Also on the agenda

The Lake Oswego School Board discussed a variety of issues at its work session Monday, including enrollment and instructional hours:

  • Board members learned details of a plan to phase in more instructional hours for students in an effort to align the district with new standards approved by the state last week.

    Beginning next year, school districts in Oregon will be required to provide 966 instructional hours for 12th-graders, 990 hours for grades 9-11 and 900 hours for grades K-8. Nonacademic assemblies and nonacademic field trips will not count, but inclement weather days will until 2016-17.

    Under the plan up for approval by the Lake Oswego School Board in February, at least 80 percent of students in the district would meet the standards for their grade level next school year, gradually rising to 92 percent in 2018-19.

    Rob Saxton, the Oregon Department of Education’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, pushed for the tighter instructional hour requirements because of a complaint filed by the Parents Coalition against Portland Public Schools; districts including Lake Oswego got a waiver for this school year.

  • The board heard an administrative recommendation to allow no new elementary tuition students in the coming year; last year, 10 slots for new tuition students were permitted at the elementary level, with priority given to siblings of current students.

    Administrators recommended renewing last year’s other enrollment options: Inter-district transfers still would be accepted at Lakeridge High; tuition students still would be accepted at all secondary schools; and open enrollment would be allowed for grades 9-10 at Lakeridge High and all grades at Lakeridge Junior High, with no limit to the number of students accepted.

    The board must make a decision on 2015-16 open enrollment requirements by March 1.

  • The board reviewed drafts of the 2015-18 school calendars. Furlough days are not on the proposed 2015-16 calendar or future calendars, and the days are going to be removed from the district’s latest financial model. However, the board will not officially approve the district budget, which includes personnel expenditures, for next school year until late spring. One key point of debate was whether to allow school to begin before Labor Day, which falls later in the month than usual — Sept. 7 this year as opposed to Sept. 1 in 2014. The board considered a potential solution that would make an exception for 2015-16 but not make it a general practice.

  • Stuart Ketzler, the district’s executive director of finance, reported that the co-chairmen of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means released their recommended budget for the 2015-17 biennium on Jan. 13, allocating $7.24 billion for the State School Fund. That’s $335 million more than proposed in the governor’s recommended budget, which was released last month, Ketzler said.

  • Lake Oswego School Board Chairwoman Liz Hartman, a member of Oregon School Boards Association’s Legislative Policy Committee, encouraged fellow board members to attend Legislative Day on Feb. 23 at Willamette University in Salem. It will be an opportunity for board members to meet with legislators to advocate for education funding.


    By Jillian Daley
    Reporter
    503-636-1281, ext. 109
    email: jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com
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