The Lake Oswego School District Foundation annual campaign begins this month.
The foundation is in its 26th year of fund raising to meet the needs of our school district. The organization exists because in good economic times or bad, the state of Oregon fails to send enough money to support the educational quality that the parents of Lake Oswego want and demand, in order for our children to meet their potential and carry us into the next half century. As such, our schools are public-private partnerships. We can expect this to be the case this year and into the future.
Our mission is to sustain outstanding public education in Lake Oswego by investing in teachers. The foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization with a 30-member volunteer board that includes parents representing all schools on both sides of the lake, high school students, graduates of Lake Oswego high schools and community members. The organization is separate from the Lake Oswego School District and the Lake Oswego School Board. The foundation is also completely independent of each school's Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) - PTOs and PTAs have the important goal of raising funds for their individuals schools (for programs and equipment), but they are not allowed to raise funds for teacher salaries.
Approximately two-thirds of families of enrolled children contributed to the foundation last year, underscoring the broad base of support. Each year 95 percent of what we raise is transferred to the district in late spring, with the remaining 5 percent retained to cover fundraising costs. We do not direct the LOSD superintendent in how to spend these funds - other than they must go toward teachers' salaries - and we do not take sides on the difficult decisions faced by the LOSD School Board each year. But we do know that the funds are distributed among all the schools in the district for equitable impact, something we follow closely and take keen interest in.
Since 2008, our school district has faced extraordinary financial challenges. The district has cut millions of dollars from its budget. Our teachers have forgone step and cost of living raises for three years, in partnership with our community. Although many groups helped us surmount this shortfall last year, including the extraordinarily generous city of Lake Oswego, each year we face an uphill battle to bridge the deficit gap. Last year we came together and raised enough to fund 30 teachers. Our challenges remain daunting. For next year, we again face a several million dollar deficit. Our goal is to raise $750 per child per year in the district.
When I read about the divisive issues and negative forces that, at times, seem to have the upper hand in our community, I remember how we align to support our children and future. We have outstanding public schools. As I have seen with my neighbors, fellow board members, Lake Oswego business owners, our teachers and our children, Lake Oswego is remarkable for its ability to come together in a common goal. So please, if you are a parent, grandparent, student, alumnus, community member, business owner, or educator, make a donation at www.losdfoundation.org to keep our schools great.
Linda Ganzini, board member, Lake Oswego School District Foundation, is a resident of Lake Oswego.