Invest in kids, invest in schools
As a strong supporter of our local schools and the two education measures placed on our ballots, I wanted to address the misleading and inaccurate assertions made by five individuals in the voters' pamphlet who oppose investment in our schools:
School bond will increase property tax rates
False. The school bond will not increase our property tax rates (keeping our school bond rates below three cents per $10 of assessed value). The five authors appear to be conflating school bonds with all other bonds.
¦ Collected property taxes are going up
True, but misleading. Collected property taxes go up most years as a result of our assessed values going up, and will likely do so regardless of whether a school bond passes.
¦ District did not have enough money to pay off last bond and had to take money from classrooms to make up the difference
100% false. The author of this assertion has declined opportunities to learn about the bond and is now filling in the gaps with incorrect guesses.
¦ West Linn primary schools are below capacity at the moment
True, but misleading. Is the author suggesting we delay planning for new schools until AFTER we go beyond capacity? This seems somewhat ironic as the author of this assertion has complained for years of overcrowding in the district. The district has hired professionals to forecast our future, and they predict growth. We should plan accordingly in both Wilsonville and West Linn, rather than sticking our heads in the sand and foolishly believing that our communities will stop growing.
¦ Our schools are not doing well
False. The author cherry-picks data and compares a single metric to a single school. We were just rated the second-best school district in the state (out of 161), and people move here for our schools. While there is room to improve, our schools are excellent. This is, in large part, due to our community's historic willingness to invest in them.
¦ There is no reason to re-imagine Arts & Tech High School
False. The people of our community have loudly, and in large numbers, let the district know it wants vastly expanded career and technical education opportunities for our students who are not interested in four-year degrees. The redesigned high school will address this community demand.
¦ We need more parking at the high school
True. And the measure does exactly this. The opponents are upset there is not more parking, but two things. First, we do not yet know how many spaces will be possible in the redesign, and most who want more parking would agree 100 new parking spaces is better than zero new spaces.
¦ Schools should be improved in a cheaper, better way
OK, how? The opponents offer no ideas, only complaints. The bond measure represents our district's best effort to make the smartest, most efficient investments after meeting with all stakeholders in our community and putting in countless hours of thought, analysis and outside-the-box thinking.
A free, easy solution to renovate schools does not exist.
¦ We should improve our schools by not investing in them.
No words for this one. ... Investing in our schools is the best investment we can make. When you hear someone tell you that we should not invest in our schools, I encourage you to take their arguments with the appropriate level of skepticism and fact-checking. Please vote yes twice for our kids and community.
Rob Fernandez is a former chair of the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board.
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