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What's the top issue facing the school community?

It has been my honor to meet and receive the support of hundreds of community members this month. As a candidate for Position 2 of the Lake Oswego School Board, I want to thank the parent organizations, neighborhood associations and others who have taken time to speak to me in recent weeks. Howell

I am often asked what the top issue is facing our school community. I believe the question is, how do we take our top performing district to the next level while facing unprecedented financial challenges? As an experienced leader who has successfully pushed for positive change that will help our children graduate ready for college and the workforce, I believe we must have a solid vision for the future. Not only do we need to spend our money wisely and market our district well, we must prioritize smart innovations that help our students and our community get ahead. Here are a few ideas we could get started on right away.

At the elementary schools, implementation of the new Common Core standards is requiring a great deal of staff time. At the same time, the 2010 decision to cut our PE specialists not only reduced an important class that helped our children stay healthy and fit, but also took away teacher prep time, which is needed more than ever. There is much research indicating that strong PE programs improve learning outcomes. We should investigate adding that PE time back to benefit students and give our teachers back the prep time they need to prepare lessons in this new paradigm. With six elementary schools instead of nine, this investment will come at a lower cost.

At the middle schools, we should offer world languages as an elective beginning in sixth grade. A second language program gives students a competitive advantage for college and opens doors to opportunities throughout life. This won’t cost the district money if we add it as an elective option and balance it with the existing compass program, which offers students exposure to arts and culture. With a second language progression starting in sixth grade, students are eligible for AP foreign language by sophomore year.

At the high schools, we should enable new ideas from staff members who want to create new programs. One recent example is the engineering program, started by an LOHS teacher with grants and parent club support. We should foster this innovative spirit and encourage new ideas across the academic spectrum. We should also offer opportunities for students to study technology, providing pathways to future careers.

Excellence can never rest. We must continually seek out ways to produce informed global citizens. As your school board member I will not ignore issues that concern the broader community. We must be willing to engage all stakeholders, listen to all voices, critically analyze recommendations, and proactively seek advice and feedback from our constituents.

You can contact me with your ideas at SarahForLOSD.com. On May 21, please vote for Sarah Howell, Position 2, Lake Oswego School Board.

Sarah Howell, Lake Oswego, is a candidate for Position 2 on the Lake Oswego School Board in the May 21 special election.



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