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'Renew your support' for local option school levy


I am a fiscal conservative, but I do not hesitate to support the local option school levy. As a former Lake Oswego School District School Board chairperson I understand how challenging it is for the district to provide the quality education Lake Oswego residents expect while receiving insufficient education funding from the state of Oregon. Continuation of the school levy is critical to preserving our outstanding schools. Akerman

For many years our state legislators have failed to provide stable and adequate funding for Oregon students. Since 2000, Lake Oswego residents have voted to provide supplemental funding to our local schools through passage and renewal of our local option school levy. The law is written so that the levy will sunset after five years unless it is renewed by voters. I served on the LOSD board from 2001 to 2009, and during that time Lake Oswego voters twice renewed our levy at the rate of $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed value. It is critical that we once again renew the levy so that we can keep our schools among the best in the state.

The results of the additional investment in our local schools provided by the levy are clear. It allows us to maintain low class sizes and to provide the rich course offerings that set our district apart. For the past six consecutive years, every school in the district has received the state’s highest rating. Lake Oswego students have consistently scored significantly higher than the state and national averages on SAT scores. Quite simply, we are doing an excellent job educating our children and preparing them for a successful future.

Renewal of the levy will not increase your tax rate. It is a continuation of the same tax rate you are already paying.

The revenue produced by our levy represents more than 10 percent of our district operating budget. This translates to between $6 million and $7 million a year. For context, consider that the district recently closed three elementary schools and reconfigured our elementary and junior high schools in order to save approximately $2 million per year. Imagine if we lost more than three times that amount of annual funding. The district would be forced to make drastic cuts to teaching positions, which would result in significantly higher class sizes. There would be dramatic reductions in programming. Perhaps there would be additional school closures. Failure to pass the school levy would have dire consequences for our schools, our community and, most importantly, our students.

Our schools are the cornerstone of our great city. By keeping our schools healthy, we keep Lake Oswego strong. There is plenty of evidence that our schools attract families to Lake Oswego and preserve the value of our homes. My wife, Peggy, and I made Lake Oswego our home nearly 40 years ago. Like many, we were attracted by Lake Oswego’s reputation as a community that values education and offers a high quality of life. We enjoyed raising our children in this fine community and are committed to supporting causes that promote the continued strength and success of our city and its residents.

Please join me in voting yes on Measure 3-434 for the continued success of our schools.

Rich Akerman, Lake Oswego, is a former Lake Oswego School Board chairman.