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Citizen's View: School Board expects to decide on bond before end of summer

One of the highlights of serving on the Lake Oswego School Board the past seven years has been recognizing and celebrating our senior class at graduation. Last week, at Lakeridge and Lake Oswego high schools, more than 620 graduates stepped on stage to receive their diplomas.

Our community should be very proud of these accomplished graduates. The academic rigor and extensive coursework offerings, along with dedicated teachers and staff, prepared these young individuals to pursue bright futures as they move onto promising college degrees and careers.

We are very fortunate to live in a strong and supportive community that believes in education. Year after year, our schools rank at the top of the state and nation in educational outcomes. It has been that way since I attended our schools in the 1960s and 70s. The interesting thing is that my grade school — Forest Hills Elementary — and Lake Oswego Junior High have had only minor updates and no major repairs since my kindergarten year with Mrs. Eisenbeis, who served Mother’s cookies for snacks before naptime. That was a long time ago.

In fact, all of our elementary schools and both junior highs are seriously in need of repair or even rebuilding. We have safety improvements that are badly needed to keep our children safe, warm and dry. We need new roofs, flooring and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. We are lacking technology infrastructure to support educational needs in all our schools. And of equal importance, we need 21st century improvements to our classrooms to ensure our students continue to graduate college- and career-ready. We need to re-invest in our infrastructure.

At our school board meeting this week, we had an excellent presentation by the Bond Development Committee on its findings, listing the many projects and priorities needed to protect and enhance our investment in school buildings throughout the district. This was the culmination of a long and arduous process of many committees, focus groups, community and neighborhood listening sessions, public hearings and many long work sessions by dedicated volunteers from throughout the community.

On behalf of the board, I want to thank the hundreds of people who have served and participated over the past two years in this important work. We are part of a remarkable community that is truly dedicated to making Lake Oswego a great place to live.

So where do we go from here? The facts are that we have a long list of projects that need to get done and everything can’t be done at once. The recommendations are an important step in a very thorough and detailed process. The board will spend the next several weeks evaluating the recommendations and will continue to hear input from community members. We will continue to discuss strategies for energy-efficient buildings, seismic risks and ways to make our buildings safe and secure. We will also review cost projections and overall bond and project timelines. Our current timetable is to reach a decision regarding the composition and timing of a school bond before the end of summer.

While the citizens of Lake Oswego before us planned and invested in our schools, we must also go through the significant process of planning our reinvestment for the future. Please visit our LOSD website to learn more about our bond development project at www.edline.net/pages/Lake_Oswego_School_District.

John Wendland is a resident of Lake Oswego and a member of the Lake Oswego School Board.