Lake Oswego School District officials and school board members could breath a sigh of relief Tuesday night.
In the latest unofficial vote count released by Clackamas County, the Lake Oswego Learning Levy (Measure 3-547) passed by a margin of 58-42.
With 11,832 votes counted as of Wednesday, 6,906 residents voted "yes" while 4,926 voted against the levy.
After the initial count was released at 8 p.m., the margin was significant enough for the district to issue a press release thanking the voters.
"We are so grateful for the support and trust of the Lake Oswego community," Superintendent Michael Musick said in the release. "The levy is critical to LOSD success. It currently provides more than 12% of our budget. With this vote, we are able to create targeted investments that are critical for each and every student to succeed."
The school district first approved the levy — which is a tax based on assessed property values — in 2000 as a response to changes in statewide education funding, and it was renewed in 2004, 2008 and 2013.
This year, the district asked voters to approve a $.25 cent increase in the levy, bringing it from $1.39 to to $1.64 per $1,000 in assessed property value. Officials said the new levy would not only preserve about 80 teaching, licensed and support positions, but also fund significant new investments in mental health supports, STEM/Innovation, reading, physical education and safety.
Specifically, the new funding would allow the district to add seven new mental health and social-emotional learning counselors — three in elementary schools and four in secondary schools. Eight new STEM/Innovation teachers (six in elementary and two in secondary) would be hired, as would one additional school resource officer. And with early reading being perhaps the most significant emphasis in the levy campaign, the district promised to add three elementary support/learning specialists.
The campaign for the levy was led by parents Neelam Gupta and Sarah Howell, along with the school board.
"I am very grateful for the commitment of the Lake Oswego community in passing the LO Learning Levy, which reaffirms the support and value we place in our children, their education, and our top-notch schools," Gupta said in the release.
"My heart is full of gratitude for this community that cares so much about our schools," Howell added in the release.
School board chair Bob Barman said he is thankful that the voters of Lake Oswego decided to make this financial sacrifice.
"One of the defining characteristics of this wonderful community we all call Lake Oswego is that we have always come together — north or south, east or west, Laker or Pacer — for our children's education," he said. "This great victory and financial sacrifice is a gift from our generation to the new generation of children who will lead the world in decades to come. Thanks to everyone in this special community that is making this possible."
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