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'For all of the little ones'

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Saturday morning rally speakers urge people to commit to the May school bond to improve safety, security and educational offerings

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - A crowd of at least 100 people gathered for the Saturday morning rally.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego School District held a rally on Saturday at Lakeridge Junior High for the $187 million school bond measure that is slated for the May 16 ballot. Speakers included LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck, state Rep. Ann Lininger and Mayor Kent Studebaker.  Attendees included Sosanda and Stephen Erdmann and their older daughter Olive and youngest daughter Luka.
The overarching message at a rally for the Lake Oswego School District bond on Saturday could be captured in two sentences, one about the condition of the buildings and one about the young people who occupy those structures.

Lake Oswego School Board member Bob Barman explained why he believes that voters should pass the bond.

"Let's do it right for all of the little ones," Barman said.

And teacher's union president David Finkelman told the crowd of at least 100 people that: "Lake Oswego schools are past the point of band-aids and duct tape." Finkelman went on to highlight some of the issues with seismic safety and deferred maintenance that the $187 million dollar bond on the May 16 ballot would address. He said parents and school employees are nervous BARMANschools wouldn't hold up in a quake. And he told rally attendees that one school had its heating system fail, requiring students to wear their puffy winter jackets, and then there was the flooding of classrooms when the rains came.

"We have top-notch teachers and administrators, but, most importantly, we have terrific students," he said. "Please join me in ensuring the Lake Oswego schools' success by helping to pass this bond."

But Barman and Finkelman were not the only ones who spoke about maintenance trouble and the benefits of investing in children, and more, at the Saturday morning rally. The event was organized by the executive committee of the Keep Lake Oswego Schools First campaign and Hubbell Communications.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - David Finkelman, president of the teachers union, said that Lake Oswego schools are 'past the point of band-aids and duct tape.'

The speakers

WENDLANDOther speakers included state Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego; Mayor Kent Studebaker; Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Heather Beck; Laura Paxson Kluthe, past president of the local teacher's union; Melissa Siegel, the LOSD classified union president; and Lake Oswego School Board members John Wendland and John Wallin. School Board member Liz Hartman had intended be there but fell ill and could not attend. All of those who addressed the crowd also sought to offer inspiration.

"You need to be the contagious energy that leaves this room and advocates for the bond," Wendland said.

He told the gathering that they need to spread the word that schools are careworn, and this bond can help. Some of what the bond would provide is $61.4 million for repairs and structural improvements and another $82.3 million to replace Lakeridge LININGERJunior High School, which sits on unstable soil and has cracks in its load-bearing walls and foundation. The rally was held at LJHS, offering guests the chance to view a series of long cracks throughout the auditorium floor.

Siegel said improvements are needed and pointed out some of the repair problems that she's seen in her more than 19 years working for the district.

"It is deplorable," Siegel said. "There is mold. There's leaking roofs; there's buckets on the floor (to catch drips). And we need to step up and do our part."

Some of the other problems speakers pointed out are harder to see. Lininger, who has two children at Lake Oswego High School, named a couple of concerns she has as a parent. One of them was the seismic instability of schools, which is an issue the bond would help address. Another benefit she said the bond could offer is more peace of mind for parents.

{img:145461}She recalls that during the Umpqua Community College attacks in 2015, when a gunman shot and killed nine students, many parents were scared for students at local schools, about half of which were built more than 50 years ago.

"Our schools do not have 21st-century security systems," Lininger noted. "We need those systems to keep things safe, and this bond will help our schools get those systems."

Studebaker said that Forest Hills Elementary (built in 1949) is virtually the same as he remembers from when he attended there, and that the community should back the bond.

"Our children are our future," he said, "and we must protect them and empower them and effectively invest in their future."

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mayor Kent Studebaker told the crowd at the rally that children are the future, and that we must 'protect them and empower them' and 'invest in their future.'

The bond details

BECKThe bond will be an investment in school programming for the students. There also will be additional funding to bolster science, technology, engineering, art and math programs, to fund maker spaces/multipurpose rooms and to replace the district pool. Beck said in her introduction of the other speakers that these investments are crucial for LOSD to remain competitive and to provide students with the instruction they need.

"They need opportunities that we currently can't offer them," she said.

There could be more upgrades to schools coming in the future for students, depending on voters. The bond comes in three phases. Phase One, which is what voters would cast their ballots for in May, would carry a bond rate of $1.25 per $1,000 assessed property value. The bond would establish a tax rate of $425 per PAXSON KLUTHEyear for a home with an assessed value of $340,000, the average according to Clackamas County. Assessed value is about two-thirds of a typical home's real market value.

Paxson Kluthe spurred applause when she told the crowd that there is "an anti-tax zeitgeist in our nation right now."

"Taxes are not just for the things that we want — but the things that we need," she told the gathering.

Voters would later decide on two more phases of the bond. A $200 million Phase Two slated for the ballot in 2021 includes replacing Lake Oswego Junior High and River Grove Elementary School. In 2025, locals will vote on the $150 million Phase Three, which includes raising new buildings for Forest Hills and Lake Grove elementary schools.

REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - A fissure at Lakeridge Junior High School is measured with a crack meter. The school is slated for replacement in the May school bond because it sits on shifting soil and has widening cracks in its walls and foundation.

The crowd

WALLINWallin said most of the people in the crowd understand the bond and what impact it would have.

"The thing is that this is the room of the true believers," he noted. "We all understand what the issues with our schools are."

He urged the assemblage to disperse into the community and share with everyone, including the 70 percent of people who don't have children in schools, why they should invest in education.

DUKE CASTLEThe crowd seemed to embrace the positive message, with cheers and applause.

Duke and Jan Castle, two of the co-founders of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network, attended the rally. They said they support the bond and are eager to inspire others to do the same.

"In the sustainability work that we do, the focus is on the next generation, and that is what this bond is about," Duke Castle said.

JAN CASTLEJan Castle said the bond is "a positive thing, and it cuts across all of the boundaries" that divide us.

Marilyn Schulz, a Lake Oswego resident who attended local schools and whose children did as well, said she plans to reach out across those boundaries to people who don't have a close connection to the schools.

Schulz also said that the rally gave her hope that voters will support the bond.

"It was enjoyable and very positive to see everyone together that cares," she said.

Contact reporter Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

How would the bond help your school?

The Lake Oswego School Board on Feb. 27 approved the bond measure language that will appear in the voters' pamphlet. The Lake Oswego School District posted the language of the bond online, and also made available an overall summary of the bond projects for Phase One of the three-phase bond and a list of what projects will take place at which schools in this phase. There also is a framework for all three phases.

Learn more about the school facilities bond measure slated for the May 16 ballot online at: tinyurl.com/LOSDMay2017Bond.