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Reader' Letters

Oct 17, 2013

The Lake Oswego City Council unanimously supports renewing the school district’s local option levy. Why should the renewal of the local option levy be supported? Here’s why:

1. Our Lake Oswego schools are one of our most highly valued assets and a cornerstone of our community. One of the most important reasons why people move to and stay in our city are our schools. They are, without question, one of the most highly prized assets of our city. Helping to maintain our school’s excellence helps us all.

2. The high quality of our public schools draws families to Lake Oswego and contributes to our community’s quality of life and high property values. High property values and great schools are a self-reinforcing continuous circle. By helping to maintain great schools we help to maintain a great community. By being a great community we help to maintain great schools.

3. Our citizens have shown repeated support of our schools by approving the initial local option levy in 2000 and renewing the local option levy in 2004 and 2008. This is a long and consistent voice of support for our schools — one of the foundations of our community. We have great teachers, involved and supportive parents and students ready and willing to make the most of educational opportunities.

4. Loss of the local option levy support will reduce school funding by 10 percent, resulting in larger class sizes and/or fewer classes offered. The local option levy provides approximately $6 million a year (about 10 percent of the overall total) for school funding. Loss of that funding will either increase class size or decrease class offerings.

5. The city and the school district have a long relationship in sharing resources where possible to provide efficient and cost-effective delivery of services that benefit both. Be it the shared use of athletic facilities or the use of other resources, the city and the schools cooperate to provide the best possible value to the citizens.

6. Renewing the local option levy does not increase the tax rate per tax assessed value. Renewing the local option levy leaves the tax rate in place at $1.39 per thousand dollars of tax assessed value. This rate is unchanged since 2004 and will continue at the same rate with renewal.

7. Every dollar that goes into the school district is treated with great care. Whether or not you agree or disagree with any particular dollars spent, the school district exhibits doing the right thing with the taxpayers’ money.

We, your city council representatives, unanimously support renewing the local option levy to keep Lake Oswego strong.

Mayor Kent Studebaker

Councilor Karen Bowerman

Councilor Jon Gustafson

Councilor Jeff Gudman

Councilor Lauren Hughes

Councilor Donna Jordan

Councilor Skip O’Neill

Lake Oswego

Oct 17, 2013

This week citizens who reside in the Lake Oswego School District will receive a ballot for the Nov. 5 election that asks voters for their continued support of our local schools.

By voting yes on ballot Measure 3-434, citizens can renew the Lake Oswego school levy.

This is a simple renewal of an existing levy and is not a tax increase. This levy was established in 2000 and has been reaffirmed by our town in 2004 and 2008. It provides critical funding directly to our 10 Lake Oswego schools and it is a major reason that Lake Oswego has been able to provide the strong public education that our citizens deserve and expect.

Over the past months, many newspapers and local TV news hours have featured stories about declining test scores and low graduation rates. A bright spot is often our neighborhood school district where Lake Oswego continues to excel and defy many of these negative trends. While we are blessed with fabulous kids and wonderful, involved families, our schools are also strongly supported and nurtured by our community.

The Lake Oswego school levy provides more than 10 percent of our annual school budget. These funds make a big difference for our students. They allow the district to provide smaller class sizes so that our children can acquire critical reading, writing and math skills.

The school levy allows us to provide advanced classes and meaningful electives that prepare our older students for college and careers. These funds also enable our district to fund art, music and civics courses that help build future leaders for our city.

As chairwoman of the Lake Oswego School Board, I have the privilege of seeing the difference these funds make in the lives of all students in our community. I am also a parent who has seen the direct benefit of a Lake Oswego education on my three children. In the next year, I will become an “empty nester” and I will continue to value the impact excellent schools have on attracting young families to our town. Great schools build strong communities. Great schools support our property values.

Funding schools in Oregon is a big challenge. Tax revenues have been severely impacted during the lengthy recession with funds for education cut drastically. The state Legislature worked very hard during the recent special session to address inadequate funding for education. We are very grateful for these efforts and our district will see an increase in funding next year of approximately $1 million and some relief from our PERS expenses the following year. While this is a step in the right direction, it is not enough to restore historical cuts taken and provide adequate future funding levels.

This makes the Lake Oswego school levy even more important to our local schools. When you receive your ballot you will notice that there are only statements in support of the school levy and this support comes from a broad array of citizens and leaders in our community. Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete and mail your ballot and for voting yes on ballot Measure 3-434 in support of our children.

Patti Zebrowski

Chairwoman of the Lake Oswego School Board.

Oct 17, 2013

Voters residing within the Lake Oswego School District boundaries have a no-brainer facing them in the vote-by-mail special election Nov. 5.

At no increased cost to Lake Oswego households, voters can either renew the local option levy (Measure 3-434) for another five years to maintain a much-needed source of revenue for the district or they can turn their noses at local schools and plunge the district into economic chaos.

Continue to pay the relatively modest local option or bring enormous hardship to local education — that’s what is on the line. It’s that simple, and it’s that important.

Vote-by-mail ballots go out Friday for this election. And voters have until 8 p.m. on Nov. 5 to research the issue, decide the pros (plenty) and cons (virtually none) and get their ballots turned in. Researching this one shouldn’t take long. If you want the Lake Oswego School District to continue its high-achieving ways, if you want the community to continue to be known for its strong schools and if you firmly believe that property values are intrinsically linked to a quality education system, then this is the election for you.

But don’t take our word for it. Instead, consider the issue at stake by the numbers for voters: The school district is seeking to renew its local option levy for another five years at the same levy rate of $1.39 per $1,000. This levy was first approved by local voters in 2000 and renewed in 2004 and 2008. This would be its third renewal.

Schools across Oregon are at the mercy of how much state government is able to provide. In recent years, that number has arguably been less than local schools have needed. State law gives individual communities a tool to supplement state funds, and in 2000 Lake Oswego School District voters decided to dig a bit into their pockets and up the educational ante. Voters then — and hopefully voters now — recognized that they wanted to provide more than what the state could or would give — hence, the levy.

It provides about 10 percent of the district’s operating budget for instructional programs, teaching positions and educational services. That translates into an estimated $7 million per fiscal year that the district has available thanks to the generosity and forward thinking of its patrons.

How does this affect the taxing rate of a home assessed at, for example, $350,000? Starting with July 2015, which would be the first fiscal year for the about-to-be approved levy, the homeowner would continue paying less than $500 a year, just what he or she had been paying up to this point.

Each property’s total education tax will not exceed the Measure 5 limit of $5 per $1,000 of real market value.

If you look at the various groups supporting the local option levy, it is easy to see that this is a topic that virtually all Lake Oswegans can get behind. Supporters range from Lake Oswego Citizens Action League to Friends of Lake Oswego Schools to the Lake Oswego City Council to the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce to the Keep Lake Oswego Great PAC to Stand for Children (Lake Oswego chapter) to the Coalition for Lake Oswego to the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation.

Add the Lake Oswego Review to this list: We strongly urge voters to continue to support Lake Oswego schools by voting yes on Measure 3-434. It’s the right thing to do.

Editorial Board of the Lake Oswego Review

Oct 10, 2013

I am a fiscal conservative, but I do not hesitate to support the local option school levy. As a former Lake Oswego School District School Board chairperson I understand how challenging it is for the district to provide the quality education Lake Oswego residents expect while receiving insufficient education funding from the state of Oregon. Continuation of the school levy is critical to preserving our outstanding schools.

For many years our state legislators have failed to provide stable and adequate funding for Oregon students. Since 2000, Lake Oswego residents have voted to provide supplemental funding to our local schools through passage and renewal of our local option school levy. The law is written so that the levy will sunset after five years unless it is renewed by voters. I served on the LOSD board from 2001 to 2009, and during that time Lake Oswego voters twice renewed our levy at the rate of $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed value. It is critical that we once again renew the levy so that we can keep our schools among the best in the state.

The results of the additional investment in our local schools provided by the levy are clear. It allows us to maintain low class sizes and to provide the rich course offerings that set our district apart. For the past six consecutive years, every school in the district has received the state’s highest rating. Lake Oswego students have consistently scored significantly higher than the state and national averages on SAT scores. Quite simply, we are doing an excellent job educating our children and preparing them for a successful future.

Renewal of the levy will not increase your tax rate. It is a continuation of the same tax rate you are already paying.

The revenue produced by our levy represents more than 10 percent of our district operating budget. This translates to between $6 million and $7 million a year. For context, consider that the district recently closed three elementary schools and reconfigured our elementary and junior high schools in order to save approximately $2 million per year. Imagine if we lost more than three times that amount of annual funding. The district would be forced to make drastic cuts to teaching positions, which would result in significantly higher class sizes. There would be dramatic reductions in programming. Perhaps there would be additional school closures. Failure to pass the school levy would have dire consequences for our schools, our community and, most importantly, our students.

Our schools are the cornerstone of our great city. By keeping our schools healthy, we keep Lake Oswego strong. There is plenty of evidence that our schools attract families to Lake Oswego and preserve the value of our homes. My wife, Peggy, and I made Lake Oswego our home nearly 40 years ago. Like many, we were attracted by Lake Oswego’s reputation as a community that values education and offers a high quality of life. We enjoyed raising our children in this fine community and are committed to supporting causes that promote the continued strength and success of our city and its residents.

Please join me in voting yes on Measure 3-434 for the continued success of our schools.

Rich Akerman

Lake Oswego, is a former Lake Oswego School Board chairman.

Oct 10, 2013

Please vote yes and renew our local option school levy, Measure 3-434. For our community and our kids.

We all know how important a good education is to the success of our nation, our community and our young people here in Lake Oswego. Lake Oswego schools form the heart and center of our community. Our top notch schools are the reason many of us live here, raise our families here and come back to this community if we are apart from it.

Healthy schools create our healthy community with good real estate values and full of motivated community members, volunteers, parents and kids. Our great schools promote a healthy business community here in Lake Oswego full of families, residents and professionals who value education. I believe it is this common bond that makes our community special and like no other place.

Educational excellence is no accident. It is achieved with the combined efforts of a supportive community, great teachers and administrators, great parents and fantastic kids. With all of us working together here in Lake Oswego, we have developed a reputation and a track record of support and academic excellence we can all be proud of.

Our country needs the best and the brightest to lead us and to keep our country competitive. Our kids need to be prepared for all of the challenges the world has to throw in their way and to excel as individuals, professionals and future parents.

The local option levy gives us some local control over funding in our schools. It provides a critical 10 percent of our operating budget and is even more critical as state funding is so unreliable. Our kids need lower class size, more class choice, advanced placement courses, science technology, engineering, math and language offerings to provide challenge and inspiration for achievement and preparation.

This local funding provides our community the ability to provide a level of programs that exceeds what state funding would provide alone.

Here are some of the many accomplishments by our schools last year:

-For the sixth year in a row, every school in our district has achieved the state’s highest rating.

-SAT scores are 12 percent higher and ACT scores 21 percent higher than state averages.

-Students met all four ACT college readiness benchmarks at double the state/national average.

-95 percent of our juniors met/exceeded state reading benchmarks (vs. 82-89 percent in comparable districts); 91 percent of juniors also met/exceeded in math (vs. 71-78 percent in comparable districts).

-92 percent of fifth-graders met/exceeded state reading benchmarks (vs. 70-83 percent in comparable districts); 87 percent of fifth-graders also met/exceeded in math (vs. 63-82 percent in comparable districts).

Renewing the school levy now, at the same rate we have been paying, ensures continuity of that critical revenue source until 2020. Those dollars go directly to support instructional programs and services for children in our own Lake Oswego schools. No matter how carefully the budget is managed, our schools cannot absorb a loss of this magnitude without significantly damaging education in Lake Oswego.

I am a proud supporter of our schools and I know you are too. Please join me, our mayor, city council, our school board and residents in voting for the renewal of our local option levy.

Our kids and our community thank you.

Kevin Robertson

Lake Oswego, is a local businessman who was a candidate earlier this year for the Lake Oswego School Board and is a board member with the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation.

Young girl at assembly