Our Opinion: Vote yes to continue support for Lake Oswego schools
It's very difficult to build a consensus these days.
We've seen that locally during this election cycle, as the city and a group of preservation-minded activists battle with competing measures over how to protect our parks (we'll weigh in on that debate next week). At times it feels as if we argue for the sake of arguing, rather than to arrive at some sort of collaborative solution.
It is our hope that this trend will not apply to Measure 3-577 — the Lake Oswego school bond.
This $180 million general obligation bond is the second of what's envisioned as a three-part funding process to drastically overhaul the Lake Oswego School District's aging facilities. Voters will recall that the first $187 million bond passed with 59% of the vote in 2017, and as a result the district boasts a brand-new Lakeridge Middle School along with many other capital improvements at schools that address safety, technology and other elements.
If approved, Measure 3-577 would usher in similar improvements. This time, rebuilds would take place at Lake Oswego Junior High and River Grove Elementary, while science, engineering and computer labs at both high schools would be renovated and additional safety improvements would be made across the district.
LOSD's playgrounds are outdated on a primary level, and the bond will add new equipment that can be used by a larger audience. The bond will also fix less noticeable barriers like cracks in sidewalks and hardware on doors. Multiple studies show that inclusion and accessible schools are beneficial for all students —not just those with disabilities. More inclusive schools are linked to improved mental health, social lives and grades.
The bond also emphasizes improved accessibility at all district facilities and other capital repairs like enhanced HVAC systems, upgraded kitchens and a new roof at Lake Oswego High School.
At $0.92 per $1,000 of assessed value, the bond would add about $385 per year to the tax bill of a home assessed at Lake Oswego's median value of $420,000. Between the 2017 school bond and the 2019 Lake Oswego parks bond (which was also approved), we suspect there may be bond-related fatigue from some voters. However, this is not the time for the community to pull the plug on its support for schools, and we urge voters to think of this bond as a reaffirmation of the commitment made to students and faculty in 2017. It should also be noted that the district has a track record of responsible stewardship; projects from the 2017 bond are on schedule and on budget.
In this ever-changing, increasingly vulnerable world, one might argue that schools have never been more important. Today's students will lead the way as Lake Oswego and the world at large grapple with issues like climate change, social justice and inequality. More than a year of distance learning since the pandemic began also underscored the importance of schools as physical foundations of growth and opportunity.
As Courtney Clements, the leading parent advocate for the 2021 bond, put it: "To progress as a society, the most important investment we can make is in education."
We agree. Vote yes on Measure 3-577.
— Review Editorial Board
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