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Beaverton schools score local-option victory

Voters support levy proposal


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Beaverton School District Superintendent Jeff Rose celebrates early election results that show voter approval of Measure 34-204. He told supporters at the Cedar Hills McMenamins that the work to change how education is funded in Oregon must continue after tonight's celebration of a local-option levy to benefit Beaverton schools.The community weighed in and cast a decisive vote for Beaverton students.

In unofficial results posted in Tuesday night’s election, Beaverton School District voters supported a five-year, $15 million local-option levy with 27,510 votes, or nearly 57 percent, to 21,053 votes, or 43 percent, opposing funding Measure 34-204.

Approval of the levy means local schools will be able to move forward with the first year of adding teachers back to the classroom after five years of hefty budget cuts.

As campaign supporters and district leaders gathered at the Cedar Hills McMenamins, shouts of relief and celebration filled the air.

“I’m really, really happy for our children,” Superintendent Jeff Rose told those gathered in the room.

He called the vote the first of what he hopes will be many wins for students.

School Board Chairwoman LeeAnn Larsen agreed.

“We have had a long, hard fight to overcome the cuts we’ve had,” Larsen said. “Now we get to fund an extra 150 teachers.”

Beaverton schools have been forced to carve a total of $142 million of reductions in the past five years. Those cuts included eliminating 16 school days and 640 teaching positions, which has increased class sizes at every level.

Larsen said the community’s support of the levy means those cuts will stop. Passage of the levy will cost $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years, or about $24 per month for the typical homeowner in the district. All of the funding will be invested in returning teachers to Beaverton classrooms and lowering class sizes.

“Not one dime will go to Salem,” she said. “This vote is a clear sign that our community supports our schools and giving all kids a fighting chance at every level.”

Nearly 1,000 parent and community volunteers spent hours of their time mobilizing to encourage area residents to vote in Tuesday’s election, which reported a 30 percent voter turnout in Washington County.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Parent-volunteer Karyn Servin hugs Amy Davis, another parent-volunteer, after learning Tuesday night that voters approved the Beaverton School District's local-option levy.

“We want to thank our community for listening to our case and responding to our plea for help,” Larsen said.

She added that the fight to adequately fund education in Oregon was far from over. “Please stay involved,” Larsen said. “We need your ongoing support to keep our schools strong.”

Rose echoed that plea.

While Beaverton is heading in a better trajectory for the first time in five years, now is not the time to rest, he said. “We must continue to advocate.”

He called the voter approval of the levy “an impressive victory.” He hopes community support for schools will continue to gain momentum as the fight continues in Salem.

“Times have changed, and until our state finds a system for stable financial health, we will need to continue to find local pragmatic solutions and means of moving forward,” Rose said.

Claire Hertz, the district’s chief financial officer, expressed a sense of relief as results came in.

“This is the best thing that could have happened for all of us — our community has a reason to celebrate tonight,” Hertz said. “It’s a tremendous relief to know our community is supporting our work with students.”

School Board member Karen Cunningham agreed.

“Our kids deserve this support,” said Cunningham, who has served on the board for the past 12 years. “We need this levy to start to give them the kind of high-quality, well-rounded education that we want them to have.

“We need to keep working and come together to fund education the way it needs to be funded. Our state has to do what is right for our kids. Ultimately, what is right for our kids is right for Oregon’s economic future.”

Lloyd Bernstein, chairman of the Beaverton chapter of Stand For Children and a Yes For Beaverton Schools campaign volunteer, said voters sent a clear message.

“The message is it’s time to take care of our children,” said the father of three children who attend Terra Linda Elementary School. “I’m looking forward to turning the corner — there is still a lot to be done.

“Passing this levy was the first piece of a larger, moving puzzle.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Beaverton School Board Chairwoman LeeAnn Larsen, volunteer Brian Rae, the district's Public Communication Officer Maureen Wheeler and School Board member Sarah Smith watch as the first election results come in Tuesday night supporting a $15 million local-option levy for schools.



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  • 2 Oct 2014

    Mostly Sunny 73°F 49°F

  • 3 Oct 2014

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