Renew Our Local Option School Levy

We’ve all seen the signs around town and we need to pay attention to them.  Renewal of the local option school levy is one of the most important issues we face.

Over the last several years, the school board and administration have made dramatic changes to address the flattening of the revenue stream and inflation of costs.  They have:

  • Closed 33% of elementary schools
  • Increased junior high population by 50%
  • Shortened the school year
  • Increased class sizes in all our elementary schools
  • Reduced building support staff to the bare minimum      required to keep school buildings functioning
  • Incentivized early retirement
  • Delayed acquisition of new curriculum at all levels
  • Almost completely shut down investment in technology      that can will make our staff more efficient and our schools safer

While LO United for Schools agreed with some of these actions and disagreed with others, this levy represents roughly $6 -7M of funding to our district. $6 – 7M a year is equivalent to:

  • The entire cost of all school principals and central      office staff
  • Over 20% of the teaching staff
  • 100% of the salaries for every support staff in every      school
  • The entire operating costs of every school in the      district for 2 – 3 years
  • Field management for 10 years or more

Can we afford to remove 20% from our teaching staff?  Can we afford to remove every principal and central administrator?  Are we going to close more schools and have 40+ kids in every classroom?  Can we afford to go another 10 years without investing in technology, curriculum and maintaining our properties?  Are you ready for your property values to start moving in the downward direction?

How about this…can we afford to keep our tax rate exactly what it has been for the last 5 years?

LO United for Schools are still firm in our position of transparency on budget and focus on fiscal responsibility.  Recently, the administration and school board have agreed to implement changes in the legal budget committee process that will allow for more transparency in the specifics of every category in the budget.  This will in turn create an even better visibility into any area in the budget where there is opportunity for improvement.  This is a very good move in the right direction.  However, none of this will matter if we do not renew the local option school levy.  We will have to cut so deep, it won’t be budget management.  It will be pure survival and it won’t be successful for long.

The choice in front of us really isn’t a choice.  If you support a strong public school system in Lake Oswego, you must vote to renew the levy.

Vote Yes on 3-434!

Candidate Endoresement

LO United for Schools has completed the vetting process of all candidates and with ballots being mailed this week, are recommending that you vote as follows:

Position 2:  Sarah Howell

Position 3:  Karen Delaney

Position 4:  Liz Hartman

Sarah has proven over the last 5 years that she has the time, energy and capability to lead the district.  She has consistently attended and testified at school board meetings.  She has led grass roots efforts for innovative programming like STEM, immersion and IB.  She has been a tireless fundraiser and led marketing efforts for the LOSD Foundation.  She has been given community awards for these efforts.  She is also committed for the long term, with children in the district for the next 15 years.  Her opponent has rarely been seen at board meetings and his involvement in the district has been entirely focused on the Foundation, not the core issues needed to set policy and provide oversight.  There is no question in our mind that Sarah is the most qualified and best representative for this seat.

It would be hard to find anyone who has been more engaged in the LOSD community over the last 10 years than Karen Delaney.  She has attended almost every board meeting, has served on multiple SAC teams at multiple schools, served on the consolidation committee where she was the sole dissenting view based upon capacity issues that were inevitable and where she correctly predicted a need to reopen schools or add portables.  She still has children attending and volunteers in the elementary, middle and high schools through reading groups, mock interview process and countless other fundraising and academic support roles.  Karen also brings many things to the board that have been missing over the last few years – open dialogue with the community, deep analysis of all issues facing the district, detailed oversight of financial reporting as it pertains to all taxpayers and a focus on the entire community, not just a specific audience of the district’s power brokers.  With a law degree from Cornell, an economics degree from Wellesley and experience on the FDIC and Campaign Finance Board, she brings a unique skill set that is seriously needed on any board, an independent voice that will provide oversight above political alliance.

Liz Hartman’s record stands on its own.  She has been involved in the district at all levels and in all areas for over ten years.  She has served on countless committees, volunteered in elementary, middle and high schools and is respected by parents, teachers, principals and other administrators across the district.  We believe the primary reason for this is her consistent focus on a holistic view of all issues and ability to bring people together on issues of many complexities.  She has also served on the LOSD Foundation board for several years, where she championed and co-founded the endowment.  It’s hard to find an issue where she is not well informed and when you do, she knows how to bring the right people together to help make the most informed decisions.  We look forward to working with Liz to help make LOSD even better in the future.

Initial Survey Results

Over 96% of respondents have children in the district and over 98% live in the LOSD boundary areas.

There were several issues with broad consensus:

  • College preparedness, Class size and Financial Stability were ranked the most important by the most people
  • Safety of Athletic Facilities, Security upgrades, and Standardized Testing performance were ranked the least important by the most people.
  • 84% felt local revenue and PERS reform were the most viable options to balance the budget.
  • 81.5% felt teacher reductions were not a viable option to balance the budget.
  • The top 3 new superintendent qualities were: financial expertise, experience leading a high performing district and innovative problem solving.
  • The lowest new superintendent quality was: promoting from within the district.

We are working on another survey that will allow us to dig deeper into the issues that did not have broad consensus.  Once complete we will send out and would greatly appreciate your continued participation.  It is helping us develop questions for our forum on April 4 and we hope it is helping our existing and future board members understand the priorities from the eyes of our community.