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School financing doesnt keep up with times

Do schools really need more money (School tax: The fight begins, Jan. 27)? The media provide us with plenty of general commentary from naysayers: 'Public schools have plenty of money Ñ they are just too wasteful.' Easy to say, impossible to prove.

In 1990-91, the budget for Portland Public Schools was $309 million. For 2005-06, the budget is $378 million. That is a total increase of just 22.3 percent over 15 years, and most of that increase is due to the I-tax funds!

Sound reasonable? Let's take a walk down memory lane. In 1990, Portland's median home price was $59,200. Portland's median household income was $25,592.

The naysayers want you to believe that schools have plenty of money Ñ but how many other organizations or households could manage to make ends meet on what they earned in 1990? Schools' costs rise Ñ just like everyone else's Ñ but each year they are asked to make do with essentially the same funding as in 1990. Portland Public Schools have cut staff and services every year since Measure 5 was implemented in 1991.

As a parent of two school-age kids, I think the city tax is a lousy way to fund public schools, but I also know that it is the best option available.

Kris Anderson

Northeast Portland

New tax would strangle economy

In the article 'School tax: The fight begins,' John Whistler said that the proposed I-tax is important because it will prevent Portland from having a broken school system, thus keeping people from pulling their children out and sending them to private schools (Jan. 27). He decried the loss to the consumer economy if people left the city.

I think Whistler misses the point of a consumer economy and the absurdity of putting more dollars into government rather than private enterprise. If I enroll my children in private schools, I'm putting my money, by my choice, into a segment of the consumer economy.

Dumping more money into a government-monopolized system means I have less money for other segments of the consumer economy. And this type of economy is, at its core, based on choice. By requiring more money to go into a system that is almost, if not already, broken, I have less choice about where to invest my disposable dollars.

If parents truly had choice in this area, and the dollars followed the children, I think people like Mayor Tom Potter and Whistler would be surprised at how many would put their children in any place but government-run schools.

Eric Carter

Northeast Portland

Residents' role in city future remains hazy

'We've got trouble right here in River City É '

Does Portland want to define itself as 'unique' or as another cosmopolitan jungle with all that represents? Or does it want to be unique and take a different path? As a native, I embrace Portland's individuality among other emerging cities.

Simple equation: Increased traffic + densely populated city = increased problems for downtown Portland. As described in the Jan. 13 article titled 'Collision course?,' in my humble opinion, we are on a collision course.

Are we creating a problem or responding to an existing one? Mayor Tom Potter's decision to bring more money to the city is on track. However, what will be left for citizens to decide? Potter's 'community vision project' includes feedback and involvement from the people about Portland's future. Is there truly a vision, or is City Hall selling out to the highest bidder? It's as though an architect had designed a 10,000-square-foot building and Portlanders get to design one or two rooms.

Potter's going to need a bigger Band-Aid to deal with emerging problems Ñ a direct result of these burgeoning changes. With Measure 37, high-rise complexes lining our streets and more developments planned, the problems Portland faces will continue. Off-track betting within city limits, coupled with plans for expansion of MAX lines, low-income housing within reach of both and a more densely populated downtown and Pearl District makes for trouble, right here in River City.

Do we, as Portland's citizens, embrace our individuality? If we do, then what steps do we take to grow Portland's future?

Jacqueline Lerner-Aderman

Tigard

Teachers get sweeter deal than most

I'm certain I speak for thousands of fed-up Oregonians who are sick and tired of reading about school funding crises. Teachers can make as much as $87,000 a year including benefits, and most public employees retire at much higher payouts than the rest of America.

There is no funding crisis. Thankfully, most taxpayers have slowly waked up to the fact that we are being taken for quite a ride. We're now immune to all of the bellyaching by teachers and their infuriating union reps.

Sally Choong

Boring