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Community continues to lobby for LOSD pool

More local residents speak out in favor of including pool investments in a bond scheduled for May

REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - In February 2016, then-Lake Oswego High School senior Edward Kang set a new district record in the 100 butterfly and also won the district title in the 100 backstroke. Kang went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.Supporters of the Lake Oswego School District’s pool continued their efforts this week to have repair or replacement of the facility included on a bond measure proposed for the May 2017 ballot.

Three of the four speakers at Monday’s meeting of the Lake Oswego School Board spoke in favor of investing in the district’s pool, including Lake Oswego resident Karen Davitt. Davitt said her 12-year-old son, a Catlin Gabel School student, is a member of the Lake Oswego Swim Club.

“We really rely on this pool for his swim practices and, as a taxpayer in Lake Oswego, I would like to see funding for a pool as part of the bond measure,” Davitt said.

School Board members approved a phased bond proposal Aug. 29 to address facility improvement needs at all 10 schools in the district. Since then, the board has sought community feedback on the proposal, including the public input session on Monday and another public meeting planned for Sept. 27.

The bond proposal does not currently include the pool, but the board does plan to discuss possible improvements to the facility during a work session — which will not involve public input — at 4 p.m. Oct. 5. The board plans to approve a final bond proposal Oct. 10.

HOWELL“The proposal includes provisions for maintenance at all of our district schools,” Board Chair Sarah Howell said. “The proposal provides safety in all of our buildings, including seismic improvements. The proposal includes adding or improving classrooms that will enable students to take advantage of classes in science, technology, engineering, art and math. The proposal allows us to invest in technology.”

The current three-phase proposal includes a 30-year plan to improve all school facilities with seismic and maintenance upgrades. Voters will decide on Phase One in the spring, while the other phases are scheduled to appear on ballots in 2021 and 2025.

Lakeridge Junior High would be replaced in the first $180 million phase; the school stands on shifting soil, and its foundation and walls are cracking. Phase One involves a bond rate of $0.95 per $1,000 assessed property value; it would result in a $304-per-year tax increase for a home with an assessed value of $320,000, the average according to Clackamas County. Assessed value is about two-thirds of a typical home’s real market value.

The proposed bond would help the district address at least $98 million (not counting soft costs such as design) in seismic improvements and building maintenance, which were deferred during the recession in favor of funding employees and student programming. But as committees helped guide the bond-creation process during the past year, pool advocates have spoken at several meetings.

The pool, built in 1971, was found to be in critical condition and ranked in the second-worst condition of all district buildings by a study commissioned for the LOSD last year.

“We now face financial decisions about how to replace or maintain" the pool, said Lake Oswego resident Van Hoomissen, whose told the board that children learned to swim in the pool and participated in district aquatic events. "But we have always been a district of excellence, complete with a full array of athletic and academic opportunities.”

Speaking next was Lake Oswego High School senior Haley Padgett, a member of the swim and water polo teams. Padgett created a blog called fixthelopool.blogspot.com when a support beam broke at the pool earlier this year. The pool closed for repairs for almost a month, requiring swimmers to find other places to practice.

“The pool is a very old building, and I know that, and I think that it’s only a matter of time before the pool breaks and we can no longer use it,” Padgett said. “I’ve never been to a school board meeting before, as I know you guys have done such a great job of taking care of our students. ... But, I’m really begging you this time to add the pool onto the first (phase of the) bond.”

The pool could also land on a later phase. As currently proposed, the $200 million Phase Two would include capital projects such as replacing Lake Oswego Junior High and River Grove Elementary School; the $150 million Phase Three would include projects like replacing Forest Hills and Lake Grove elementary schools.

The speaker who didn’t talk about the pool Monday was Kerstan Ruffer, vice president of sustainability for the Oak Creek Parent Teacher Association, who has two children at Oak Creek and one at Lake Oswego Junior High. She told the board she wants to ensure that when schools are built, they include crosswalks with blinking lights where children cross, outdoor spaces with accessible irrigation systems and sustainable kitchens that guest chefs or parents can use during harvest festivals.

“I’m wanting parents to be allowed in the kitchens at certain times to use the kitchens for various harvest festivals when needed and also for sustainable dishwashers to be put in,” Ruffer said.

The board also heard a pledge of support from the Lake Oswego School Employee Association, which is the classified union for staff. The union introduced its leadership for the year, with Melissa Siegel returning as president, and members sang a few bars of the Bruno Mars pop song, “Count on Me.”

“We’re very excited to have a bond pass to improve the conditions for our staff and our students, and, just like the song said, we are behind you every step of the way, and you can count on us to help,” Siegel said.

There also have been emails to the board concerning the bond proposal, including one from Steve Gradow, founder and owner of Gradow Capital Management LLC, who cautioned his friend Bob Barman, a board member, to review how the district funds building maintenance.

By Jillian Daley
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The date for next week’s public input session has been moved forward a day. It will now be held 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, in the Lake Oswego School District Administration Building, 2455 Country Club Road. Written comments may be submitted to board members at any time: bit.ly/LOSDBoard.