It was very dismaying to read the recently published 'Near Term Strategic Initiatives Proposal,' and see that the (Lake Oswego School) District is considering placing portables at Rivergrove Elementary and funding a language immersion program in the wake of school closures and program cuts across the district.
As Lake Oswego citizens, we have been willing to make sacrifices that would ultimately benefit all children in the district; however, there is still a push from a small group of parents pressing for a language immersion program which would negatively impact River Grove Elementary School and all elementary students in the district if scenario Alpha or Beta is adopted.
Among parents with children that attend River Grove Elementary School, there is a driving concern over the instillation of portables at River Grove in order to support a language immersion program within the district. Although, River Grove Elementary does have adequate field space for the siting of portable classrooms, the school does not have the existing infrastructure to support an increase number of students from Bryant Elementary when it closes and a districtwide immersion program.
Already, pick-up and drop-off times are stressed because of the size and design of the parking lot at River Grove. An increase in students means an increase in parents and buses, which means an increase in vehicle traffic. All of which will compete for space in an overcrowded parking lot, with poor visibility. Also, since River Grove is the smallest elementary school in the district, other existing infrastructure such as bathrooms, lack of a cafeteria space, a small library and a single playground will also be under greater stress with the already planned influx of students from Bryant.
Other than safety and infrastructure concerns, the main overriding factor that we should all be concerned with is the immediate cost to provide what is at best a short-term option for the development of a language immersion program within the district. What is considered reasonable as to the cost of the portables and maintenance, and what part of the budget will those costs be subtracted from?
Why not use any available funds in a manner that serves to benefit all district elementary students, such as adding back more P.E. classes, since currently the program has been cut to only one day a week, which is a grossly inadequate amount of time for kids to be active or promote a healthy lifestyle.
The money could also be used to update the technology across the district. It is a shame that the technology that our students have access to is subpar for a district of this size and financial resources. It also is difficult to fathom how the district can justify spending money on portables when it is closing schools and displacing students in the district. An immersion program only benefits a small (portion) of student population and it doesn't seem fair that other children must sacrifice PE and technology to fund it.
Based on the guiding assumptions set forth by the Lake Oswego School District in the third draft of the 'Near Term Strategic Initiatives Proposal,' we would like to encourage the school board to adopt the Omega Option set forth in the aforementioned proposal. Although it means a one year gap in offering an immersion program, it would allow the board to make a more informed, fiscally responsible and cost-effective decision based on the implementation of school closures and restructuring.
Erik Wollen is a Lake Oswego resident and he is the parent of a child at River Grove Elementary School.