School board discusses technology
The school year is winding down, but the Lake Oswego school board is still going strong. At Monday night's work meeting, the board discussed technology improvements, sustainability and special services.
The board voted unanimously grant contracts to Creative Learning Systems for the installation a of STEM lab at each elementary school. The labs are funded by the $187 million school bond, passed in May 2017. Technology improvements are a major focus of bond dollars, in addition to repairing facilities and updates to safety and security.
The contracts range from $145,000 to nearly $193,000, depending on the elementary school. In total, $1,089,451 in bond funds will go towards this project.
Creative Learning Systems calls the labs "Smart Labs," described as a "fully-integrated learning environment where everything from the furniture and technology to curriculum and assessment work together to support hands-on, minds-on learning."
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele briefed the board about the STEM labs. "It's really about self-exploration. Students will be able to choose what they want to be learning," she said. "There will be a facilitator in each room, guiding the children."
In a Creative Learning Systems Smart Lab, elementary students rotate from project to project in upper elementary grades while whole-class, teacher-led activities provide age-appropriate guidance for younger learners.
The school board approved the five-year contracts, which will include maintenance and updates on the lab's technology. "As technology advances it will cover that as well," Schiele said. "Any updates in the next five years will be included."
Next, the board heard a presentation from students who recently earned an Oregon Green School certification on behalf of their Lake Oswego High School.
The LOHS Green Team has been meeting since January, and recently received entry level Green School certification.
In order to become certified as a Green School, students must have a staff member leader, coordinate with Oregon Green Schools to help develop future steps and create a plan detailing what their goals are for recycling, waste reduction and resource conservation — and how their school will meet them.
"We have three years to meet our goals but we know some of them can be tackled immediately," LOHS student Arielle Bloom said. The students plan to apply for grants, install more reusable water bottle filling stations, popularize composting and reduce energy consumption in computers and lighting.
They also hope to change the climate of sustainability at school. "We plan to go around to classrooms to spread the word about compost options so that composting becomes the norm instead of something you go out of your way to do," LOHS student Elena Lee said. "We'll also conduct regular waste and compost audits
so that students can physi-
cally see the results of their efforts."
The Green Team also said they've reached out to Lake Oswego Junior High to help both schools be more sustainable.
The school board then heard from Patrick Tomblin, the district's director of special services. Tomblin was joined by Becky Owens and Cyndi Spear, co-chairs of the Special Services Parent Advisory Committee.
Tomblin detailed some of the things that the special services department has accomplished this year. "A year of experience really helped us learn a lot of things we could do better," he said.
They implemented a protocol for what happens to students with disabilities during emergency situations, which did not exist before. This is especially important, he said, because many students cannot follow the usual process. For example, some students are unable to stay quiet, take shelter in an enclosed space or remain calm.
The special services department also made strides in technology to benefit different kinds of learners.
"We put together universal accommodations on every iPad or device that's out there (in the schools)," Tomblin said. This gives students an audio option for school reading material.
"We also implemented Co:Writer, a word prediction software which helps students articulate their thoughts," Tomblin added.
Owens shared that her son Max, who has autism, has greatly benefited from using the software.
Tomblin also explained some cost neutral changes that the district will be making, including moving staff around so they are most effective. "(We want) to make sure our licensed staff is working with our highest need children," Tomblin said. "We're being very strategic."
One example is the reclassification of LOSD school psychologist James Sanders and special services coordinator Linda Moon. Sanders and Moon will now be assistant directors of special services. They will not only be in charge of special education programs, but anything under the umbrella of special services. Sanders will spearhead behavioral and emotional support, while Moon will manage the academic side.
"I'm really excited to see some of the cost neutral solutions that you've put into place," board member Sara Pocklington said.
Tomblin also said the special services department is working on changing the culture around disability and special needs in the district. "We are fairly well set up from a structural standpoint; it's that culture piece that we have to get in place," he said. "Does everybody truly mean 'all means all'? Or is it 'all means all — but you work with those kids?'"
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