When my husband and I bought our current home more than 20 years ago, I had two requirements: It would be multi-story, and it would be in the Beaverton School District. As I've gotten older, I've questioned the stairs but never doubted that the Beaverton School District was the best place for my children. And, even though my children have graduated, I urge our community to support Beaverton schools by voting 'yes' on Measure 34-193.

We have great schools in Beaverton. The current district goal, set with the community, is for all children in Beaverton to be ready for further education and careers after they finish high school. Our students achieve at a level higher than the rest of the state and graduate from high school at a rate higher than the state average. But the current state school funding reduction threatens the ability of the district to provide the basics for our children.

Funding from Salem has forced the Beaverton School District to reduce $105 million from the budget over the last four years. Although we have kept cuts as far from the classroom as we could for as long as we could, that is no longer possible. We have nothing left to cut other than the classroom. There are no 'extras.' We increased class sizes last year, and they are at the point where teachers cannot give children the individual attention they need and deserve.

Our budget future looks similarly bleak. The district anticipates budget cuts of $24 million to $37 million for the 2012-13 school year. With these reductions, the problem will get worse. Class sizes will increase further. Program offerings will be reduced. The basic education of our children will suffer.

But there is something we can do as a community to help. Measure 34-193, the Beaverton School District Local Option Levy, would provide $14 million per year to Beaverton classrooms for the next five years. That is the equivalent of 180 teachers - staffing that will make a considerable difference in the district's ability to provide a basic education for the children of Beaverton. Every penny raised by the levy will stay in Beaverton. Every penny raised by the levy will be used in classrooms.

Quality schools are an important part of a quality community and a strong economy. That's not just my opinion. Local businesses, large and small - including the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce - support the levy. They know that quality schools encourage businesses to locate in the community and workers to live in the community. They know that we can't afford not to pass the levy and therefore protect Beaverton's classrooms.

Beaverton is a great community. I know, and the community knows, how important good schools are to the community. Let's get out and vote 'yes' for Measure 34-193. Let's protect our schools. Let's protect our community. Join me in voting 'yes' for Beaverton schools' local option levy.

(Karen Cunningham is a Garden Home resident who has served on the School Board for the Beaverton School District for 10 years. She also serves as chairwoman of the Citizens for School Support campaign.)

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