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School levy a must for kids, economy

If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then the photo that appeared on last week's front page of the News-Times means this endorsement can be brief. The picture, snapped in the Forest Grove High School hallway during a typical break between classes, showed kids looking like, well, sardines.

It was a stark reminder of a fact that has dominated local elections: It's not a question of whether we grow, but how.

Almost all the money measures on the county ballot, from public safety to greenspaces, are aimed a dealing with that reality. None, however, are as important as Measure 34-136, the Forest Grove School District's proposed $49.7 million levy. When school board members began discussing the levy, some questioned whether the timing was right. With so many other money measures on the ballot, couldn't they wait?

As last week's photo, and the story that went with it, made clear, the answer is no. The high school, which serves children from Forest Grove and Cornelius, has a capacity of 1,650 students. This year's enrollment jumped past 1,900. With higher-end homes coming on the market, more families with older kids are expected to move into the district. The problems aren't limited to the high school. Joseph Gale Elementary needs to be completely replaced andthe kitchen at Harvey Clarke school needs a major overhaul.

The measure would cost $32 per month for the owner of a $200,000 home. That's not cheap, but the alternative could prove even more costly in the long-run. Passing this measure is the right thing to do for the students and staff members. But it's also the right thing to do for everyone else. If this area is to avoid becoming a bedroom community of Beaverton, it needs good-paying jobs. That means it not only needs a well-educated workforce, but also the ability to attract employers to hire them. They won't come to places like Cornelius and Forest Grove if our hallways continue to look like sardine cans.

Vote yes on Measure 34-136.