Over the past few weeks, observers of the Lake Oswego School District and school board have witnessed the admission that the decision to close schools and integrate sixth grade into middle schools was a mistake based on faulty data.
Blame has been spread around and yet there has been no move to correct this mistake. It's like a railroad company that decides to take a shortcut to save money and has now learned that the track will have to go through a swamp that wasn't on the map (even though plenty of people warned that there was a swamp there) and have decided to continue on anyway, 'because the decision has been made.'
Scenario B was formulated and discussed during a very different time. There was no open enrollment, there was no school board leadership for language immersion, community support of the foundation was unknown, city funding was a question mark, the economy was bad. Now we know that the community will raise millions to bridge the gap and save schools and teachers, we know that there is a will in city leadership to keep schools open, we have open enrollment legislation that has the potential to swell the enrollment in our schools, as does language immersion.
All this is positive news and creates positive growth and income. And yet, sticking with Scenario B and closing schools just creates more problems now and in the long run: Classroom overcrowding, expenditures on portable trailers for classrooms, restricting open enrollment, restricting the development of language immersion, inequities in the quality of education between north and south schools.
This district was once the pride of Oregon. It's why we moved here. Now it's just a massive mess. It's February and the junior highs still don't know how they plan to create a better learning environment for our sixth graders and we don't know where our school boundaries are. We have the opportunity to create an education destination here in Lake Oswego and that opportunity will be lost for at least a decade if we continue on with Scenario B.
Phillip Hyun is a resident of Lake Oswego.
Editor's note: Nancy Duin, director of communications for the Lake Oswego School District, responds:
'There has been no determination on the part of the school district that the decision to implement Scenario B was the wrong decision. The consolidation and reconfiguration of schools will save more than $2 million per year in an economic environment of constrained resources.
'To address concerns regarding school boundaries, enrollment projections and classroom utilization, the school board is appointing parent committees for north side and south side elementary schools to make near-term recommendations for adjustments as needed. The school board has been studying the possibilities and implications surrounding open transfer legislation and elementary language immersion throughout the school year, and will be providing direction at its meeting on Feb. 13.'