Unofficial results show a majority of voters support LO district

by:  VERN UYETAKE - Chairwoman of the school levy campaign Audrey Monroe, left, celebrates with former Lake Oswego School Board member Linda Brown as the election results came in.A whopping 78 percent of voters who weighed in at the Tuesday election approved the five-year local option levy for the Lake Oswego School District, according to unofficial results.

Several local supporters are rejoicing in the levy’s avalanche of favorable votes, although some votes submitted in ballot boxes in other counties or that need signature verification still may trickle in before the results are certified later this month.

“It’s really amazing,” said Patti Zebrowski, Lake Oswego School Board chairwoman. “What a wonderful endorsement of education. Wow.”

Audrey Monroe, chairwoman of the school levy campaign, said one reason the measure passed by such a wide margin is it’s a renewal levy that does not change tax rates. Another reason for the levy’s apparent win is the community’s attitude toward education.

“We are very fortunate to live in a community where residents value strong schools, and they are willing to invest in the education system,” Monroe said.

The levy rate, the same since 2004, is $1.39 per $1,000. A person with a $350,000 home pays $487 per year for the levy, less than $41 per month.

Levy revenue comprises 10 percent of the school district’s budget, so winning the election just may have helped the school board avoid further staff cuts and school consolidations.

by: VERN UYETAKE - School district Superintendent Bill Korach chats with Audrey Monroe, chairwoman of the school levy campaign, about the campaign.“As a school district, we’re about what educational, academic as well as nonacademic, opportunities (we) offer to our students, and the amount of resources we have limits what we can offer or expands what we can offer,” Superintendent Bill Korach said.

Portions of three counties make up the Lake Oswego School District with the bulk of the more than 28,000 registered voters housed in Clackamas County. Unofficial results released late Tuesday showed 10,133 yes and 2,785 no votes: 10,066 pro votes and 2,757 anti votes in Clackamas, 21 yes and 11 no votes in Washington County and 44 thumbs up and 17 thumbs down in Multnomah County.

“This is a huge win for the ongoing vitality of Lake Oswego’s schools, businesses, residents and homeowners,” Monroe said. “Our entire community won tonight.”

The current levy expires in June 2015, but advocates got out the vote early, so they could try again at other elections if the renewal failed this fall.

The levy first was passed in May 2000 with a rate of $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed value and has brought in millions of dollars since then. Finance director Stuart Ketzler said the levy revenue accounted for almost 11 percent of the 2012-13 operating budget at $5.9 million, according to the audited numbers. The levy revenue’s going to be roughly 10 percent of the 2013-14 operating budget, Ketzler said.

“The fact that local control was removed as far as funding for local schools, it’s even more important that we step up at the local level and provide the ability to give our schools an edge,” said Kerry Griffin, foundation board president.

State funding constitutes more than 70 percent of the school budget, and other sources also include teacher salary support from the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation. The foundation gave $1.7 million to the school district in fiscal year 2012-13.

Changes to tax laws in the past have made schools more reliant on state funding.

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @JillianDaley.

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