Letters to the Editor
There isn't enough need to vote for bond
I have read the district's long-range facilities plan online. The consultant report shows 2023 needs as 175 primary school, 10 middle school, and 375 high school spaces. But the bond request is for 350 primary, 850 middle, and 200 high school using a total of $152 million from the $206.8 million.
In good conscience, I cannot vote for a costly measure with such a discrepancy, but would hope the district returns next year with a more realistic request.
As I read the report, the immediate problem is the high schools. District high schools currently have a deficit availability of 69 growing to 375 in 2023. But the only direct bond money to relieve this overcrowding is a remodel of WHS auditorium to add 400 seats. (Editor's note: The district's plan to remodel Athey Creek into a small high school is intended to address this crowding.)
Also of concern upon my reading is enrollment classed as "out-of-district" students; 190 at WLHS, 110 at Arts and Technology HS, and 91 at Wilsonville HS for a total of 391 (Figure 29, page 140).
I have no idea of the cross-district legalities, responsibilities and economics (quid pro quo), but 391 is a quarter of a high school building that is devoted to out-of-district needs.
I see nothing in the 2019 Long Range Facilities Plan showing any near-term physical facilities shortage; certainly not needing $150 million to solve thru a bond measure.
So, I must reluctantly vote "no" as this bond is not a good stewardship of public resources.Add a strong "yes" for 3-555 — continuation of funding for 80 teachers. (I would note WLHS profiles on the publicschoolreview.com website is 75 teachers, 1,809 students and 24:1 student-teacher ratio ). Let's fund as much as possible in the classroom before building more classrooms.
Help our students
As a member of the Clackamas Community College Board, I'm grateful to the West Linn-Wilsonville School District for partnering with CCC to provide equitable, affordable, accessible pathways to college and career.
The district's bond proposal should offer good opportunities to maximize that partnership through career and technical education programs that will articulate into CCC college and career programs.
With any proposal there are many decisions and tradeoffs. The district's website offers resources to understand the bond's evolution, including the dstrict's high school study, long-range plan, and capital projects list at https://www.wlwv.k12.or.us/
On balance, the bond takes into account the many needs of all students. There are ongoing opportunities for you to provide input to the district to ensure transparency and accountability: meetings of the School Board, Budget Committee, and Long Range Planning Committee, which also provides bond oversight. Better yet, apply or run for any of these positions.
The levy will continue teaching positions that are vital for addressing class size and student achievement.
I'm so grateful for this community's engagement and support of our district and Clackamas Community College, and expect the measures will help our students achieve and thrive.
When is enough, enough?
Look at the FOR arguments in the voter's pamphlet for the school district's Measure 3-554. It is a Christmas wish list offered by professional educators, administrators, city politicians, backed by contract developers.
It is put to the people of this community in an off-year election dressed up under the banner of safety and future growth.
What it really represents is the education establishment's noting that some bond funding in West Linn will expire this year, allowing property tax rates to drop some next year.
They do not want that to happen and are pushing hard to keep it at the maximum and replace it before the property owners realize a lower tax bill. It is much easier to tell people that taxes will stay the same and get more marginal votes.
West Linn/Wilsonville schools is already the best school district in the state of Oregon, both in physical plant (brick and mortar and playing fields) and quality teachers.
We do not need this bond in that amount at this time. There are many other public needs in the community that could use funding; affordable housing, mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, public open spaces to name a few.
This will be the first "School Bond" issue I will be voting against in the 41 years that my family and I have lived in West Linn.
Charles and Maureen Davis
Hidden Springs, West Linn
West Linners already pay high taxes; vote no
West Linn residents, especially the homeowners who live adjacent to the new middle school proposed to be built near Dollar Street, have been blindsided by the school district, which seeks to ram through Ballot Measure 3-554.
A traffic consultancy has indicated that no more than 25% (213) of the students, at best, would walk to school. That leaves over 600 students to take buses or, more likely, to be driven by parents to and from school.
This will be the fourth bond in 15 years — the District is getting pretty good at putting them before the voters and getting reflexive support in the name of our children.
The reality is that the current balance owed is approximately $170 million. By adding another $206.4 million, we are being asked to take on a liability of about $376 million. This represents a major burden on District homeowners whose property taxes are already skyrocketing.
Like many others, I do not like this trend and am horrified at the proposed siting, which leads me to suggest that the District go back to the drawing board, and reduce the next bond proposal. I am voting NO on 3-554 and urge others to vote NO as well.
Vote yes this November
I am excited about what the WL-WV School District bond will do.
We can address overcrowding at the primary and high school levels, we can provide career and technical education that will help prepare our kids for the work force of the future, we can provide safety upgrades and thereby a little more peace of mind to parents and students alike, and the state of Oregon will give us an additional $7.6 million if we pass the bond.
I like the return on this investment!
The bond has been structured to bring these improvements to our students without raising the taxpayers' tax rate. If we don't make these investments now we are merely kicking the can down the road and will face a much bigger tax increase in five years.
We are fortunate that our district is cognizant of our tax rates and has kept them flat for the last 12-plus years. If you look at neighboring districts like Sherwood or Lake Oswego, these communities have faced significant tax increases by not addressing facility needs as they occurred.
Our district is extending our investments and is doing more with less over time. Join me in voting yes twice this November for our schools and students.
Follow the cash; separate offices
The elephant in the room on the issue of Measure 3-552 is development. Vote YES to protect our quality of life from irresponsible infill and development of Stafford Triangle.
We saw a staff attorney controlled by the City manager work with staff to degrade our land-use laws with "Cut the Red Tape" code amendments. They also set up Willamette and Bolton for densification as Metro "town centers."
Thanks to the objections of our citizenry, we dodged those bullets. City Council is asking us to change our charter to prevent these types of things from ever happening again. They are acting on advice of independent legal counsel. Furthermore, the City Manager and City Attorney project legal costs will go down as they continue to work together as officers equally balanced in power.
Separation of their offices avoids conflict of interests and is efficient. Follow the money and take the long view. The NO campaign is funded by development money passed through a political action committee controlled by lobbyist Michael Selvaggio.
The real boondoggle is the opposition has no facts to support its claims — just money. It's imperative you vote by Tuesday or the currently cast 10% of ballots will determine our future.
Legal services worries unwarranted
The controversy over Measure 3-352 is difficult for me, as I consider myself a friend and supporter of both our Mayor and the Council persons who support it.
However, on balance, I am voting for Measure 3-552 because it provides the clarity that is currently lacking in our Charter about who should hire any other attorney besides the City Attorney, if needed.
As I understand it, the Charter requires City Council to appoint the City Attorney, as the "Chief Legal Officer of the City." (Charter Section 23 A). I agree that it only makes sense that Council alone should appoint any other attorneys that might be necessary and Measure 3-552 clarifies that. Measure 3-552, in essence, would restore a key section of the Charter that was repealed in 2013 without fair notice; Section 8(f) "The Council may retain legal advisors as it deems prudent. The legal advisers shall report to and serve at the discretion of the Council."
Besides providing that Council appoints all attorneys, Measure 3-552 also promotes critically important teamwork; "This measure would clarify that the City Manager should coordinate with the City Council and the City Attorney on all legal matters."
I know that our Mayor is concerned that this measure will restrict the City Manager from performing necessary functions, but, in my judgement, that worry is overwrought. Bottom line: We need to vote YES on Measure 3-552.
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