It's the right thing to do

Voters residing within the Lake Oswego School District boundaries have a no-brainer facing them in the vote-by-mail special election Nov. 5.

At no increased cost to Lake Oswego households, voters can either renew the local option levy (Measure 3-434) for another five years to maintain a much-needed source of revenue for the district or they can turn their noses at local schools and plunge the district into economic chaos.

Continue to pay the relatively modest local option or bring enormous hardship to local education — that’s what is on the line. It’s that simple, and it’s that important.

Vote-by-mail ballots go out Friday for this election. And voters have until 8 p.m. on Nov. 5 to research the issue, decide the pros (plenty) and cons (virtually none) and get their ballots turned in. Researching this one shouldn’t take long. If you want the Lake Oswego School District to continue its high-achieving ways, if you want the community to continue to be known for its strong schools and if you firmly believe that property values are intrinsically linked to a quality education system, then this is the election for you.

But don’t take our word for it. Instead, consider the issue at stake by the numbers for voters: The school district is seeking to renew its local option levy for another five years at the same levy rate of $1.39 per $1,000. This levy was first approved by local voters in 2000 and renewed in 2004 and 2008. This would be its third renewal.

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.

It provides about 10 percent of the district’s operating budget for instructional programs, teaching positions and educational services. That translates into an estimated $7 million per fiscal year that the district has available thanks to the generosity and forward thinking of its patrons.

How does this affect the taxing rate of a home assessed at, for example, $350,000? Starting with July 2015, which would be the first fiscal year for the about-to-be approved levy, the homeowner would continue paying less than $500 a year, just what he or she had been paying up to this point.

Each property’s total education tax will not exceed the Measure 5 limit of $5 per $1,000 of real market value.

If you look at the various groups supporting the local option levy, it is easy to see that this is a topic that virtually all Lake Oswegans can get behind. Supporters range from Lake Oswego Citizens Action League to Friends of Lake Oswego Schools to the Lake Oswego City Council to the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce to the Keep Lake Oswego Great PAC to Stand for Children (Lake Oswego chapter) to the Coalition for Lake Oswego to the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation.

Add the Lake Oswego Review to this list: We strongly urge voters to continue to support Lake Oswego schools by voting yes on Measure 3-434. It’s the right thing to do.

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