An open letter to Jim Farrell
Your Citizen's View published in the April 27 West Linn Tidings is consistent with most all of your communications about the school district: it is filled with misinformation.
First, let's talk about your comments regarding Athey Creek and Stafford schools. The notion that the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board should have spoken to the staff and asked "… hard questions…" about why these schools are in their current locations is absurd. While this sounds like a tough, activist position, it is instructive to look at what was going on in Oregon year that Stafford was planned and sited:
These schools were planned and built 52 and 27 years ago, respectively. Jim, you hold a seat on the West Linn Planning Commission -- do you think that the approval decisions that you make right now might seem a little dated 50 years from now? Do you think that zoning and urban planning guidance might be different in 2069? Metro wasn't even created until 1993, three years after Athey Creek was built. At that time the best planning guidance available was that the county areas adjacent to those schools would be developed with high density. Asking the current staff (none of whom were present of course) "hard questions" about those two schools would have been genius. Just think of the incredible data we would have had to work with. I guess that's what you call real and transparent oversight.
So, let's talk about what you refer to as "…redistricting…" I believe that you are talking about the boundary adjustment process. Your characterization of the process as a dog and pony show is incredibly offensive. I suggest that you take the time to research the process, see who was invited to join from ALL of the affected schools, and review the hundreds of patrons' comments that were collected and published as part of the findings. Unlike almost all the school districts in the state, we invite citizens to participate in and lead our school boundary decisions.
The citizen group for the new middle school struggled with an incredibly difficult task and met numerous times while coming up with a solution that is recognized by all as an excellent solution. They then presented those results to the Board. What… the process wasn't perfect and took revisions and more work to get the best outcome? Oh, the horror… I think that is called the democratic process.
Your assertion that the Board had prior knowledge of the preliminary outcomes is factually incorrect, full stop. And I am sure your thinly veiled accusation of poor performance by the Board liaison wouldn't have anything to do with your alignment with an opposing candidate. By the way, if we are rating them, I would say that gold standard for dog and pony shows would be the West Linn Planning Commission's handling of the permit approval process for the new Sunset Elementary School. Thousands of hours and dollars were wasted by certain commissioners who were suddenly experts in logging, landslides, and storm water retention. I'd say that's your basic St. Bernard and Clydesdale version of a dog and pony show.
Your comments about capacity at Meridian Creek are simply bewildering. Do you really believe that the Long Range Planning Committee did not consider the impact of Frog Pond… really… I mean you really believe that? You really believe that during the pre-app and application process that civil engineering, roads, utilities, and open space for the development were not discussed? I'm not sure what to say other than you need to check your sources. And your reference to the Frog Pond development causing overcrowding in three years; what is your data source for that -- because it is factually incorrect.
I wish you had been around in 2008-2010 when the Board was struggling to find ways to preserve our teachers and programs. The Board made some very hard choices about how to bridge the massive revenue shortfall that the district was facing. Dual language was cut; we couldn't afford it. As soon as it was fiscally viable, Dr Rhoades led the reinstatement of the program and wisely used the extra resources available to new schools (Trillium) to restart the program in the most cost effective manner. There was no lottery the first year because there was no need for one. The program has been a success and now it's needed.
You don't like a "… feel good Board…" I don't know what that means, but I can assure you that I feel good. In fact, I am a feel-great Board member. I feel great about what has been done the last eight years in the district. I feel great about having US News and World Report rate our comprehensive high schools as No. 2 and No. 4 in the state and No. 520 and 731 nationally! I feel great about our commitment to professional development, our state summative assessment performance at all levels, the work we have done on inclusion and diversity, and the amazing relationship that we have with our certified and classified staff and unions. Most of all I feel great about the commitment that we make to every child in our district… that they will have the best education that we can provide with our available resources.
Rob Fernandez is the current director of the West Linn Wilsonville School Board