Like many Lake Oswego residents, my family was initially attracted to our community because of the exceptional schools. Over the years I have come to understand that our schools are outstanding because Lake Oswego residents and businesses continually invest in them. Monroe

When our oldest child entered kindergarten we were so excited for many reasons, not the least of which was the world of possibilities that a good education would provide for her future. As we attended our first Back to School Parent Night we were so eager to learn everything there was to know about the school where our children would spend formative years.

We were surprised that just as we were diving into this new realm of taxpayer-funded public education we were being asked to get out our checkbooks to start writing checks to support the schools.

I will admit that initially I wasn’t so sure what I thought about the requests to supplement school funding. However, as I spent more time volunteering in the schools I learned much more about the true need for additional funding because, unfortunately, for many years, the state of Oregon has not provided an adequate or stable source of school funding. Over the years many Oregon school districts have had to cut teachers and school days in response to shrinking budgets. The results have been large class sizes that have directly and negatively impacted students.

Lake Oswego schools have remained strong because our residents and businesses have been proactive in securing supplemental dollars to preserve the quality of education offered in our schools. There are three primary ways that our community and district parents supplement school funding:

1. The local option school levy allows us to preserve program offerings and keep lower class sizes. This is a levy on our property tax bills at the rate of $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed value. It must be renewed by voters every five years. In November, more than 78 percent of Lake Oswego voters supported the renewal of our school levy with a yes vote. The levy will provide between $6 million and $7 million annually that will be used only in Lake Oswego schools. Thank you Lake Oswego voters.

2. The Lake Oswego Schools Foundation directly funds additional teachers and instructional assistants throughout the district. This funding makes a critical difference in our ability to maintain smaller class sizes. Money is raised through donations to the annual LOS Foundation campaign. This year the LOS Foundation has set a goal of raising $2 million. Additionally, there is an endowment fund, which continues to grow in size and will eventually provide a significant funding source for the foundation.

3. Individual school Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) often fund things like field trips, art, educational enrichment activities, computers and technology for use in the individual school which raised the funds. Money is raised through auctions and a variety of other fundraisers.

I am happy to support the LOS Foundation because I know that the money we give goes directly toward the hiring of additional teachers so we can maintain low student-teacher ratios. These small classes are the cornerstone of the high-quality education offered in Lake Oswego schools. I consider giving to the foundation a wise investment in the future of our students and our community.

Audrey Monroe, Lake Oswego, served as the chairwoman of the Lake Oswego schools levy campaign.

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