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School board says thank you

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As another school year closes, the Lake Oswego School Board is pleased to thank the community for its support, to review accomplishments from the past year and to communicate priorities for the upcoming year.

Our greatest accomplishment is revealed in the achievement of our students in our 13 exceptional schools. We are proud to have awarded diplomas this month to a particularly high-achieving senior class full of scholars, artists and athletes. They have distinguished themselves with many national and local awards and scholarships, including a National Merit scholarship winner, two Presidential Scholar semifinalists, and nine National Merit finalists. Our students have been accepted for admission by a list of prestigious colleges and universities. Their achievements reflect dedication to hard work, the talent and skillfulness of their teachers, the commitment of their parents and the support of their community. We wish them every success.

The school board and the administration have an over-arching commitment to continuous improvement reflected in our strategic planning. For example, our instructional and program development goals over the past year included the completion of a two-year review and adoption of English curriculum, the addition of academic electives to our secondary school programs, piloting initiatives for our TAG students, continuing the implementation of our Special Services improvement plan, improving Community School offerings and continuing professional development and renewal workshops for our teaching staff. Many of these efforts will be ongoing next year, when we will also be reviewing and adopting enriched science curriculum and continuing meaningful parent involvement through Dr. (Bill) Korach's Raising Minds and Scholars' Alliance programs.

Our school board governance and oversight always includes a strong emphasis on financial planning. Adequate financial resources are essential for achieving our continuous improvement priorities. While the state funding allocation is our biggest source of revenue, it has never been sufficient to provide the level of programs and services expected by our community. We are greatly indebted to the community for support of two supplemental revenue sources, our local option levy and our foundation, which provide the enhanced funding that allows for smaller class sizes and a full range of program offerings. Over 30 teaching positions in the district this past year were funded by the foundation; its importance cannot be overstated.

The school board will place a measure for renewal of the local option levy on the ballot this November. Our local option levy provides approximately 12 percent of the district's operating budget; the board will be asking for renewal of this revenue for the 2010-2015 timeframe at the same rate that taxpayers are currently being assessed. The district will also retire an existing debt in 2010, which means that district taxpayers would see a net decrease in the overall property tax rate paid to support schools. Additional information about the local option renewal will be forthcoming this fall.

While district enrollment continues to be a concern, particularly at the elementary level, we are pleased that this past year our enrollment numbers were above projections. Our goal for next year is to continue with our marketing efforts to draw tuition students to our schools and attract students who may otherwise consider private schooling.

The school board's ability to set a challenging agenda of priorities relies not only on the strength of our administrators, teachers and staff, but also on our community involvement, partnerships and relationships. We particularly appreciate the participation of parents and community members in the continuous improvement of our schools through parent clubs, school advisory committees and site councils, TAG and special services parent advisory committees, our budget committee, respectful culture committee, educational program committee, configuration committee, foundation board and coordinating council.

As we look ahead to another eventful year, we are grateful to be part of a community that makes invaluable contributions to provide quality education in its schools. We hope you will continue to join us in this most satisfying mission. Thank you for your voice and for your support.

Linda Brown, Lake Oswego, is Chair of the Lake Oswego School Board.