For many families, the decision to live in the Lake Oswego area is often driven by the availability of high-quality public schools.

In addition to the direct benefits for families with children in the Lake Oswego schools, a superior public school system provides significant benefits to all residents through higher property values and a stronger sense of community. The community is brought together by a collective belief in the importance of investing in public education.

The Lake Oswego Schools Foundation is a clear manifestation of this belief. Since 1986, the foundation has provided members of the community a unique opportunity to commit time, energy and resources to the common goal of investing in teachers within the district. Last year, 3,828 families, businesses and organizations made contributions to the foundation.

The mission of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation is to sustain outstanding public education in Lake Oswego by investing in teachers. Last year, through the work of 200 volunteers, the foundation raised $1.7 million, which allowed the district to retain 22 teaching positions. Notwithstanding the difficult cost-cutting decisions that the district was forced to implement over the last three years, class sizes continue to be the lowest in the Portland area and all of the district schools have received the state’s highest rating for six years in a row.

Since the passage of Measure 5 in 1990, which eliminated local control of property tax revenue, school funding per student in Lake Oswego has decreased 40 percent. This revenue structure, combined with the recent recession and the increasing cost of PERS has resulted in a severely constrained budget for the Lake Oswego public schools. Given these circumstances, the foundation is a critically important way to bridge the gap between an education system the community wants and what is provided by the state’s funding model.

Contributions to the foundation do not go to Salem; the memorandum of understanding between the district and the foundation stipulates that the foundation’s donations are dedicated exclusively to hiring teachers.

The question is simple: Do the citizens of Lake Oswego want their community to continue to be the home of the state’s strongest public school system? The answer is even simpler: Donating time and resources to the foundation has a direct and immediate impact on the quality of the Lake Oswego schools. Rarely is such a difficult and valuable problem addressed by such a straightforward solution.

This week starts the annual campaign for the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation. If you receive a call from a volunteer, please pick up and please pledge. Alternatively you may donate at

Justin Dennett, Lake Oswego, is a board member of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation.

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