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Citizen's View: Now, it's your turn: Help LOSD prioritize the needs of schools

This is an exciting time for the Lake Oswego School District. On Monday, the school board voted to accept the Long Range Facilities Plan.

This plan was developed by a 32-member citizen committee, which included representatives from all 10 of our schools, administrators, Chamber of Commerce representatives and city employees, as well as citizens at large. The plan covers a 25-year planning timeframe and references principles and goals in the district’s strategic plan. This document is required by state law as a step toward presenting a bond to address construction needs in the district.

We have significant maintenance and seismic upgrade needs, with some of our buildings in dire condition. We must ensure our facilities are equipped to provide the learning environments and program capacities to best prepare our students for an evolving future. We have an opportunity to create a next-generation learning environment for our students in the 21st century and beyond.

This was not a vote to merge high schools, as was erroneously reported by a local TV station. There is no upcoming vote or plan to merge schools. The plan primarily gives us a list of guiding principles, comprehensive educational programming, advice on other district facilities and an oversight plan to ensure facilities are well managed in the future.

It does include three visions for the community to consider. The visions are on Page 49 of the Long Range Facilities Plan, which is available online at bit.ly/losdlrfp.

-- The first vision is for our 10 schools (two high schools, two middle schools and six elementary schools) to be renovated and/or expanded, but does not include new or replacement schools.

-- The second vision includes improving our 10 schools by replacing those in the worst condition (as determined by their Facilities Condition Index scores), while renovating or expanding other schools.

-- The third vision is for the district to consider consolidating high schools and junior highs within the next 10 years.

We have already heard feedback from community members as we meet with different school, parent and neighborhood groups. We plan on having more than 50 additional meetings in the next month with district staff and board member representatives to hear additional input and share the findings of the LRFP committee. The school board takes all feedback very seriously and will continue to listen to the community on this and other issues.

Now, it’s your turn. We want to invite you to be part of the process to prioritize the needs of our schools. This week, the school board has released a video highlighting the facilities planning effort ( bit.ly/losdvideo ), and the district would like to invite you to participate in a community engagement platform called ThoughtExchange. Our district will use this platform to gather community input, opinions and priorities regarding the future of our educational programs and facility improvement planning. Share your thoughts at losd.thoughtexchange.com/invitation.

Our schools are synonymous with excellence, and with good reason. It is time for our buildings to match the quality of our educational programs. Please share your voice, get involved, feel free to call any one of us, and help us keep our school district the best in the nation.

Lake Oswego School Board members Liz Hartman, Bob Barman, Sarah Howell, John Wallin and John Wendland co-wrote this Citizen’s View.