I have lived in and around Lake Oswego since 1984. Two of my children went through Bryant, Waluga (now Lakeridge) Junior High and Lakeridge High School. My wife, Tenley, is a proud graduate of Lakeridge.Birge

I am also the owner of a business (CPA firm) that has been located in LO off Meadows Road since 1991. With more than 70 employees in our LO office, we are one of the larger employers in our community.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the singular most important reason that people choose to move to, stay in and do business in Lake Oswego is because of the quality of our schools.

As a parent, I am convinced that my older sons received a much better secondary education, as compared with their college peers.

As a business owner, I see firsthand how important it is to invest resources where we expect to get the best return. I am convinced that investing in our schools provides the best return we can get on our investment, both now and in the future. Many of our employees have moved into Lake Oswego from other parts of Portland, and the quality of our schools is the overriding reason for their relocation.

I have had the privilege of being involved in various aspects of our community. I coached youth sports for 15 years. I have been involved with a number of organizations in our community, including Lake Oswego School Foundation, LO Rotary, Lakewood Center for the Arts and the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce. My experience is that each of these organizations benefits greatly from the quality of our schools. While involved with each of these organizations, I constantly met people who would remind me just how fortunate we are to have such great schools in our community.

I am the immediate past president of the LO Chamber of Commerce. The chamber, on behalf of its almost 600 members, proudly supports a yes vote for the Lake Oswego school levy. Our mission is to actively promote business success in partnership with the Lake Oswego community. The business leaders in our chamber know we could not fulfill its mission without our outstanding schools. The continuation of excellence in our schools is essential to the continued success of our local businesses.

I am proud of our city and our citizens, although we don’t always agree on all the issues that face us now and in our future. I realize that compromise and consensus building is not always easy. But I firmly believe there is one thing that brings us all together: our schools. It is the glue that binds us as a community.

Please join me in voting yes to renew our school levy — for an even stronger Lake Oswego.

Mark Birge, Lake Oswego, is a local businessman and the immediate past president of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

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