School board gets update on potential bond projects
Safety and technology generates interest, but members say selling any schools should not be part of the process at this time
The Lake Oswego School Board received an update Tuesday night on potential projects for a November bond measure from the Bond Development Committee and school district staff.
Discussion centered around the Lake Oswego School Districts pool, technology and safety in schools, covered stadium seating at Lakeridge High, the Bus Barn Building where buses are housed and the Administration Building where administrators are sited.
Everybody has to get something out of this bond, but Im hoping that as you develop this priority list, the big things are safety and technology," said school board member John Wendland. "But I do hope everyone gets something they can vote for from a community standpoint.
Wendland said he did not think the district should consider selling any of its schools at this point not even Lake Grove Elementary, which is in a commercial area. He said the real estate value of a school is often not that great.
School board chairwoman Liz Hartman agreed with regard to the committee's duties.
Disposition of property is not a charge of this bond committee, Hartman said.
Board member John Wallin told The Review on Wednesday the board should discuss the issue at a later date, however.
"We owe it to our citizens to address that issue," Wallin said.
The board showed great interest in safety and technology, and board member Sarah Howell said she considered both a priority. Safety improvements could include cameras, a secure-entry vestibule, safety glass and key-card entry at schools. Technology could involve new audio-visual equipment and communications devices.
Though the focus remained on elementary schools Tuesday, school board member Bob Barman said he felt the board should consider including covered stadium seating at Lakeridge High in the bond measure, because putting it in the bond was part of the discussion two years ago. At the time, the board considered a combination of general fund dollars, construction excise tax revenue and community donations to pay for stadium upgrades.
That was a show-stopper, because there werent available funds to fund it, Wendland said. I think its worth it to just take a second look.
When it came to non-school buildings, Barman asked Superintendent Heather Beck if she would consider approaching Lake Oswego City Manager Scott Lazenby to discuss partnering on improvements to the pool, which is used not only by school groups but also by community members. Beck said she would reach out to Lazenby.
Bob Martinsson, the Bond Development Committee chairman, said the Administration Building is in a sad state, although he told The Review on Wednesday that education in the classroom would probably be the focus for all involved.
Still, Barman said one way to address the state of the Administration Building would be to simply move administrators. That could involve adding a floor of offices when improving a school building, he said, and placing administrators there.
The school board has not yet determined the amount of the bond it will place before voters in November, but school board members, school district officials and Bond Development Committee members have already acknowledged that all of the necessary repairs cannot be covered by one bond. That means there is the possibility of an evergreen bond, which would be renewed regularly without an increase in the tax rate. When one bond expires, another would be placed before voters.
Wallin said he would like to know how detailed the school district will be in how it presents the bond projects on the ballot.
I can show you examples of other elementary schools and how they organize their bond language, said Randy Miller, executive director of project management.
The district still is far from selecting projects and is currently in the midst of a public opinion poll being conducted by phone. The board discussed results from Thoughtexchange, an online forum it used to get a sense of public opinion. About 1,810 people participated, sharing 4,249 thoughts ideas that people later ranked with 119,600 Stars.
Areas under the general district heading that received the most stars included safety upgrades (2,348 Stars), followed by facility upgrade/maintenance (2,018 Stars). The full results are available online at losd.thoughtexchange.com.
Beck said the Thoughtexchange results are not a scientific process to gauge public opinion, but more like a giant town hall to get a feel for what the community wants.
Imagine going to a town hall where 1,800 people came in to tell you their opinion," she said, "and then they all weighed in on what everybody else thought.
Also at the meeting
-- With a 5-0 vote, the school board approved the districts tentative agreement with the Lake Oswego Education Association, the teachers union. The agreement includes a one-year extension of the same 2-percent cost-of-living increase for teachers, as well as step increases that depend on position and seniority until they reach the top of the salary scale. For the second year in a row, there will not be furlough days, which are unpaid days off employees in the district took for several years. The classified union, Lake Oswego School Employees Association, will vote next week on whether to put its tentative agreement before the board, and the classified union has historically had a similar cost of living increase to the teachers union.
-- The Lake Oswego School District has been working with the Lake Oswego Police Department to ensure that the community knows they are required to clean up after their dogs and to control their dogs while on school property or in public places. New signs has been posted on school grounds to spread the word. If police officials are available and nearby, they have agreed to respond to calls about violations of the city ordinance requiring people to control their dogs and clean up excrement in public areas. Violators of the ordinance could be cited a civil fine of as much as $1,000.
Not only are bacteria and parasites from dog waste a health hazard, especially to young children, but students encountering dog waste are often not able to immediately return to the classroom due to soiled clothing, which disrupts our educational programs, said a joint press release from Lake Oswego School District and Lake Oswego Police Department.