Support investment in excellent local schools

by: ,

Voters living in the Beaverton School District should continue to support their investment in excellent local public schools by approving Bond Measure 34-139 in the Nov. 7 general election.

The bond is critically needed to keep pace with area growth by funding the construction of two new elementary schools; the conversion of vacant buildings into two new options high schools; the addition of dozens of additional classrooms at existing overcrowded schools and needed repairs at many aging schools.

If you think this measure sounds familiar, you are right. District voters approved the measure in the May primary by almost 61 percent. But due to less than a 50 percent voter turnout in the primary, the bond measure did not take effect.

Population growth and repair of aging schools continues to drive the need for this measure. Over the past five years, Beaverton schools have added more than 3,000 students. And another 4,000 students are expected to enroll by 2010. We realize that buildings don't educate students, but safe classrooms and school buildings with a sufficient number of classrooms are not a frill, but a requirement for a quality education.

That's why we encourage a 'yes' vote on this $195 million bond. If the measure passes, it will result in a tax rate of approximately 51 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation or $102 per year on a $200,000 home. However, as far as taxes are concerned, Beaverton school district taxpayers are already enjoying a break. This past June, the district's local option tax levy for operations was not renewed, saving many taxpayers $1.50 per $1,000. In essence, taxpayers could invest in this bond measure for new schools, classrooms and maintenance, and still be way ahead.

We encourage voters to remember that quality schools and a quality education are all for kids.

Teaching Beaverton students, however, suffers when growth means that classrooms and entire schools are overcrowded - or when school campuses are permanently stuffed with portable classrooms that were initially designed to be temporary fixes. And students' education is also placed at risk when building safety measures, major building maintenance and expensive modernization of aging heating systems and roofs are paid for from the district operating budgets.

We think bond measures should pay for new buildings and major repairs and maintenance and that the district's general fund should pay for the education of students.

Growth is not a villain, but it is an unresolved problem. We admit that neither the Beaverton School District nor taxpayers have an answer for fully accommodating the growth that continues locally. Oregon law doesn't permit a shortage of schools or classrooms to stand in the way of development. In the meantime, voters should do what they have done well in the past; invest in the quality education of Beaverton-area students.

Voters should vote 'yes' on Measure 34-139 for Beaverton schools in the Nov. 7 general election.