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Levy lets us keep our schools strong

Measure 3-305, renewal of the school district's local option levy, is a critically important measure for the stability of our schools.

School funding is a persistent challenge in Oregon, and requires community support at the local level in order to keep our schools whole. The funding provided by the state has never been sufficient for the educational programs the Lake Oswego community expects its schools to provide. This is a scenario that is unlikely to change.

We are very fortunate that the local option gives district voters the opportunity to provide needed funding for their local schools, and that voters recognized the importance of approving the local option levy in 2000 and again in 2004.

The local option levy currently provides over 12 percent of the district's operating budget, and makes a dramatic difference in terms of the programs and opportunities we can provide our students. The basics we value -from low class sizes to broad elective offerings - would not be possible without it. Revenue from the local option levy is an essential component of the district's financial viability.

We can give you many reasons to vote yes on Measure 3-305:

n The local option levy would be renewed at the same rate;

n The district will also be retiring debt that will reduce your tax rate by $.25 per thousand;

n Maintaining the exceptional quality of our schools protects your property value.

But the most important reason is this: If the local option levy were discontinued, the district would have to take away the improvements it has allowed us to make. With our focus on continuous improvement, the district has made great strides in recent years, and the achievement of our students reflects our accountability to the community that supports our schools. It bears repeating that all 13 of our schools are rated exceptional for the second consecutive year - an accomplishment unmatched by any other mid- or large-size school district in the state.

As we look ahead, it seems certain that state revenues will fall, and we are concerned about the impact on state funding for schools. Given the potential instability of the state funding picture, our ability to rely on the continuity of local support of our schools becomes even more critical.

Measure 3-305 has received broad and emphatic endorsements from this newspaper, civic leaders, community organizations, local candidates for office (including both mayoral candidates) and Realtors.

Now we need your endorsement as well. Please protect the investment we've made in our schools and our community's children by voting to renew the school district's local option levy. Please join us in voting YES on Measure 3-305.

Lake Oswego School Board: Deborah Lopardo, Chair; Linda Brown; Rich Akerman; Curt Sheinin and Bill Swindells