Any visitor can readily see many of the deferred maintenance issues at Lake Oswego Junior High School, parent Lisa Kolve says. All you have to do is look at ceiling tiles inside the school, many of which hang down or are ringed with stains from rainwater that has leaked through the roof.
There definitely are a variety of repairs that "need to be made," Kolve says — serious problems that would be addressed if voters approve a $187 million bond measure slated for the May 16 ballot.
"I think the bond is vitally important, given the years and years of deferred maintenance of the buildings of this school district due to the lack of stabilized funding from the state for public schools," says Kolve, who has an eighth-grade daughter at LOJ and a 10th-grade son at Riverdale High.
Lake Oswego School Board members approved a plan in August 2016 for a three-phase bond that includes building renovations and repairs throughout the district. Phase One, which will go before voters in May, includes $82.3 million for the replacement of Lakeridge Junior High, which has widening cracks in its foundation; $61.44 million for deferred maintenance and capital repairs at all 10 schools; and improvements to security, safety and technology.
To give the community a firsthand look at maintenance issues in advance of the May election, the Lake Oswego School District is hosting tours of all 10 local schools this winter and spring. Tours of Forest Hills, Lake Grove, Oak Creek, River Grove and Westridge elementary schools were held earlier this year. (See "If You Go" on this page.)
This Thursday, the district is offering a tour of LOJ; it's scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. on March 16. Coming up next week: Lakeridge High School on March 23.
To complement the tours, The Review is creating a series of videos highlighting some of the maintenance issues at each school. This week's video of LOJ is available at tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017LOJ.
Classified as 'poor'
LOJ, which was built in 1956, was classified in "poor" condition by a Facilities Condition Assessment report commissioned by the district in 2015. According to the report, it would cost $11.75 million to repair and $28.65 million to replace the school, not including soft costs such as design and personnel.
The structure's mechanical needs top $1 million; it has original boilers and an electrical system with outdated technology. The roof needs $3 million in repairs, and seismic upgrades are required to strengthen ceilings, remove an unreinforced masonry chimney and deal with gym walls that have "little reinforcement," the FCA report said.
In addition, the FCA report noted that the front door is not visible from the school office, creating a potential security issue.
Former LOJ Principal Robert Caplinger, who moved to Arizona last year, said another problem with the 106,093-square-foot, single-story building is that it is far too small for its student body. The school had 911 students in October 2016, according to the district's official enrollment count.
There is insufficient room for an assembly in the cafeteria or the gym, Caplinger told The Review last year, and the gym's bleachers are too small for the number of people who'd like to attend school games.
"We need additional classroom and gymnasium space to meet essential teaching and learning needs," he said. "Our building is 60 years old, and this shows in the layout. We need to update our infrastructure and create modern learning spaces that reflect the 21st-century needs of our students."
'Heat is necessary'
LOJ parent Courtney Clements points to another issue that anyone who stops by the middle school can see. Single-pane windows spread throughout the school are energy wasters, she says.
"We're spending a lot of money trying to heat this building in the winter," says Clements, who has a son in seventh grade at LOJ and a son in 10th grade at Lake Oswego High. "And personally, I'd rather spend money on teachers than kilowatts or therms. I'd like to see some sustainable upgrades, so we're spending money where we need to and not on unnecessary things. Heat is necessary, but wasted heat — that's not necessary."
(A therm is a unit of heat energy, whereas a kilowatt is a measure of electrical power.)
Clements, a member of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network, says upgrades to energy efficiency save money in the long term. She says she's also interested in some of the technology improvements that the bond will include.
"From what I hear, there are not sufficient electrical outlets now," she says. "There are not sufficient Bunsen burner hookups and that sort of thing."
To address some of those needs, the bond includes not only technology investments but also additional funding for science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) programs; maker spaces/multipurpose rooms; and replacement of the district pool. Program costs that involve moving students and more are also included.
The three-phase bond is part of a plan for improving district buildings. Phase One would carry a bond rate of $1.25 per $1,000 assessed property value. The bond would establish a tax rate of $425 per year for a home with an assessed value of $340,000, the median according to Clackamas County. Assessed value is about two-thirds of a typical home's real market value, and the bond would sunset after about 25 years.
A $200 million Phase Two slated for the ballot in 2021 includes replacing Lake Oswego Junior High and River Grove Elementary School. In 2025, locals will vote on the $150 million Phase Three, which includes constructing new buildings for Forest Hills and Lake Grove elementary schools. The third phase would renew the bond rate for the year 2000 bond that paid to build Lake Oswego High and renovate Lakeridge High.
Kolve says local voters should cast their ballots for this bond.
"Just like with our own houses, we have to maintain and repair (schools) occasionally, and if you fail to do that, then you're placing students in danger," she says. "But schools don't happen in a vacuum. They're part of a community."
IF YOU GO
Every in-person tour of the LOSD's 10 schools will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on a Thursday:
— River Grove Elementary's tour was held on Jan. 19;
— Forest Hills Elementary's tour was held on Feb. 9;
— Oak Creek Elementary's was held on Feb. 16;
— Lake Grove Elementary's tour was held on Feb. 23;
— Westridge Elementary's was held on March 2;
— Lake Oswego Junior High: 2500 Country Club Road, March 16;
— Lakeridge High: 1235 Overlook Road, March 23;
— Hallinan Elementary: 16800 Hawthorne Drive, April 13;
— Lakeridge Junior High: 4700 Jean Road, April 20;
— Lake Oswego High School and the district pool: 2501 Country Club Road, April 27.
VIEW IT: The Review has been releasing a series of videos in conjunction with the in-person tours:
— River Grove: tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017RG.
— Forest Hills: tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017FH.
— Oak Creek: tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017OC.
— Lake Grove: tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017LG.
— Westridge: tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017W.
— LOJ: tinyurl.com/LOSDBond2017LOJ.