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The school year in preview

What 2013-14 could bring


by:  VERN UYETAKE - Ryan Foster explains his family seal he created in Elona Schreiner's fifth-grade class during Tuesday's first day of class at Rivergrove Elementary School.As students take to the halls of Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools, they’ll discover they’re taking a new assessment test, and students at many local schools will see new teachers and administrators.

Students may even hear about changes to school policy.by: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge freshman Mia Minervini goes through a team-building exercise on the first day of school Tuesday.

The coming school year at Lake Oswego School District will usher in major change and challenges.

Superintendent Bill Korach recently told school board members that the 2013-14 to-do list will be a “time-intensive agenda” for staff, teachers and administrators, and it “will be very taxing for you.”

Korach also told the board that the district is prepared to face the challenges.

“We take planning, organization, foresight very, very seriously in our district,” he said.

Changes include new personnel, curriculum and policies.

Personnel

Korach is slated to retire at the end of the school year, and the board has been tasked with locating a new superintendent to step into a role Korach has claimed for 27 years.

Lake Oswego Schools Foundation’s new executive director, Sara Patinkin, is glad to have his counsel for another year.

“He is just a treasure trove of knowledge and information that will be a fantastic resource in instructing me in the position throughout the year,” she said shortly after accepting her job this summer.

Patinkin succeeded Mary Puskas, who retired earlier this year after leading the foundation for 20 years.

Patinkin, since May 2009, had been the development director for Donate Life Northwest, a nonprofit organ-donation advocacy group. She was one of 16 applicants for the foundation job. The foundation raises dollars to support teachers’ salaries, giving the school district $1.7 million last fiscal year.

“I am a product of public education, and I believe in it, and I love to fundraise,” Patinkin said.

Other personnel changes include: Lake Oswego High School has a new principal, Cindy Schubert. She’s taking the reins from Bruce Plato, who retired this year and then went right back to work, becoming the Community School’s director of youth sports, pool operations and facilities. Schubert was the LOHS vice principal, and Travis Johnson is moving into that position. Several other schools have new principals or vice principals as well.

Curriculum

Curriculum changes are typical, but for the past couple of years local schools have been tailoring lesson plans to meet a major change: Common Core State Standards. Common Core is a multi-state-led initiative that includes formal testing starting in the 2014-15 school year.

Common Core standards have a greater focus on literacy in all subjects and a focus more on informational, nonfiction text, Director of Secondary Education Donna Atherton said.

The new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium standardized testing in English/language arts and math begins in spring 2015. The tests are based on the Common Core standards. SBAC will replace Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, although OAKS remains in place this school year.

Several students will be taking an informal run at portions of the SBAC test in October, including fourth-graders in math and fifth-graders in English/language arts. Half of eighth-graders and half of 10th-graders will take math, and the other halves of each grade level will do English/language arts.

Policy

The board recently was criticized for its 2-year-old bullying policies, which were behind on state standards. Now administrators are looking more closely at other policy language.

“We’re going to have to look at and revise policy this year because we’ve let it slip for too long,” Korach said.

A report in May said the Lake Oswego School District governance documents on harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying needed an update to be in compliance with state law.

Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition’s second annual State of the Safe Schools Act report gave Lake Oswego, Riverdale and 53 other school districts, or 28 percent of the state, a bronze rating. It is the coalition’s lowest possible ranking for compliance.

In response to the criticism, the school board in August approved an update to its policy on hazing, harassment, intimidation, bullying, menacing, cyberbullying and teen dating violence. The changes, which include new gender identity language, bring the district up to state standards and addresses criticism that the 2-year-old policy was out of date.

The personnel, curriculum and policy changes don’t even begin to cover what’s coming this school year.

The school also is continuing a three-year strategic plan that involves budget trimming. The district snipped $1 million from the budget this year and intends to decrease spending by an additional $1 million in 2014-15 and another $1 million in 2015-16.

About 10 teachers’ positions were cut, but the district avoided layoffs when other positions were vacated.

There also will be a new teacher and administrator evaluation system. Plus, a local option school levy will again be on the ballot in November and a real estate study that will help the school board determine which schools to shutter is coming out next year. School safety plans are being assessed, and the district also is transferring to a new computer data system.

There’s a lot to do, but as school board Chairwoman Patti Zebrowski said at an August school board meeting: “The good thing is we have a positive implementation plan by our staff.”



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  • 25 Oct 2014

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