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Voters get it right in passing school levy

In our opinion


Sometimes it just takes an election to show that almost all of Lake Oswego — and its school district — can paddle in the same direction.

Voters in the Lake Oswego School District boundaries overwhelmingly approved renewing the local option levy, Measure 3-434, in the vote-by-mail election Tuesday. That means the district can count on approximately 10 percent of its budget being provided by local — and generous — voters for another five years. Funding from this levy will go into effect starting in 2015.

Remember, this was a renewal of an existing levy, not a new one.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed voters in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties passed the levy by a margin of more than 78 percent. That translates into 10,133 yes votes compared to 2,785 no votes.

This was no accident.

Patrons of the school district have an almost symbiotic relationship with their schools. Since the first levy kicked in back in 2000, voters have definitely shown awareness that strong schools — and make no mistake, Lake Oswego schools are at the top of the academic bone pile in Oregon — make for strong communities and strong housing values.

It’s a win-win situation and that, in a nutshell, is why there was virtually no organized opposition or pushback to this measure. Four years ago the levy passed but by a fairly slim margin compared to this time around.

Local voters should be patting themselves on their collective backs over such a strong statement in supporting the public school system. This is a much-needed source of revenue for LOSD and will allow the 10 schools in the district to continue their high-achieving ways.

As we noted several weeks ago in our editorial endorsing Measure 3-434, “Schools across Oregon are at the mercy of how much state government is able to provide. In recent years, that number has arguably been less than local schools have needed. State law gives individual communities a tool to supplement state funds, and in 2000 Lake Oswego School District voters decided to dig a bit into their pockets and up the educational ante. Voters then — and hopefully voters now — recognized that they wanted to provide more than what the state could or would give — hence, the levy.”

Combining the financial support the levy provides along with key funds coming from the Lake Oswego School Foundation, it’s easy to speculate that supporters of the district are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

And gratitude. For you voters have done a good thing in this election.

The levy rate, the same since 2004, is $1.39 per $1,000. A person with a $350,000 home currently pays $487 per year for the levy, less than $41 per month. You can do the math for your own home. You already seem to be aware of the maxim: No pain, no gain. Without the pain of providing significant financial support to make local schools the best in the state, there can’t be the significant gain shown in a strong community with strong housing values.

Passing the levy will help the school board avoid further staff cuts and school consolidations, school district Superintendent Bill Korach said.

This is a bright moment for Lake Oswegans. We applaud you for recognizing the value in supporting this school district, for casting your vote and for doing what truly was the right thing.



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