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Here are three ideas for LOSD to consider

While it is true that the Lake Oswego School District maintains high test scores and graduation rates compared to other districts, there are many programs and policies that have been proven effective in other districts that are not being implemented here.

Not every program or policy change involves additional expense; what implementation does require is a change in the mind-set of the school board and the administration and a willingness to engage with new ideas. With the district already involved in searching for a new superintendent, and the upcoming elections for three of the five school board positions in May, this is the time for our community to consider new ideas that might encourage new families to move here (or to enroll their children in the schools on a tuition basis). Here are three suggestions:

First, we should fully implement the Spanish immersion program. Language immersion programs are popular nationally as well as in our community. Other than start-up costs (interested parents have always expressed a willingness to shoulder this burden), this program is cost-neutral and is proven to attract students. Currently, an immersion program it is offered on a limited basis at Lake Grove Elementary, but it should be expanded so that any school in the district that has enough interested families can offer the rewards of fluency in a second language. Keeping it at only one school unfairly limits the program to students whose families can shoulder the burden of driving their child to/from a school outside of their neighborhood. Furthermore, offering it districtwide would solve the program of where the immersion program will be located once the students reach middle and high school.

Second, our district must come to grips with the fact that the current school schedule is in conflict with the biological rhythms of our students. Our schools should switch the daily schedule of high school and elementary students to start school later for the teenagers. Not only will teenage students actually be awake for class, but they will not be standing outside waiting for the bus in the dark. Just a few weeks ago a father testified to the school board that his teen daughter felt endangered by unknown strangers who were by the bus stop while she was waiting in the dark alone — this is a potentially dangerous situation that should not be ignored.

Flipping the start times would provide benefits to elementary families as well. An earlier start time would allow working parents of young children to get to work earlier than under the current schedule in which elementary students start their days after 9 a.m. Making this change would signal to families considering moving to Lake Oswego that our district is willing to break with the old and make bold decisions based on the well-being of our children.

Third, technology should be used to ameliorate perceived inequities between different schools. Instead of making sure that each high school has identical class offerings, let’s encourage varied offerings and use technology to allow students to take classes being physically taught at the other high school.

These changes would be of limited financial impact to our district, would benefit our students immensely, and would attract new residents with children to our community. The school board election is in May — remember to vote.

Marti Long is a resident of Lake Oswego.



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