Lake Oswego School District Local Option Levy FAQs
Q: What is the school levy?
A: The local option school levy provides Lake Oswego with local control of its schools. The levy supplements state funding and provides important and necessary revenue for the level of educational programs, teaching positions, and class sizes we want for the schools in our community. Our school levy is a way of ensuring local dollars go toward keeping Lake Oswego schools among the best in Oregon.
Q: Why do we need a school levy?
A: Measure 5, which passed in 1990, was a property tax limitation measure which also changed the way schools are funded in Oregon. Funding authority was transferred from the local level to the state level, and schools are now funded using a formula that equalizes funding across districts statewide. Since the passage of Measure 5, state funding has never been sufficient for the level of educational programs and services provided by the Lake Oswego School District.
Q: How long has LOSD had a local option levy?
A: The first local option school levy was approved in 2000, and renewed in 2004, 2008, and most recently, in 2013 by a greater than 3 to 1 margin.
Q: What percentage of the school budget does our school levy represent?
A: The school levy currently makes up about 12% of the general operating budget of the Lake Oswego School District. That funding enables Lake Oswego to maintain, on-average, lower class sizes and more robust curriculum options than some other districts in our area.
Q: What does our school levy provide?
A: It is difficult to overstate the importance of the school levy. It provides additional teaching positions, allows the district to offer the breadth of coursework our high achieving student poulation demands, and helps to minimize class sizes. Additionally, because of regular uncertainties in the state budgeting process, the levy allows for a level of predictability in funding for local schools.
Q: What would happen if the local option school levy were not renewed?
A: Without the school levy, the district would have to cut approximately 12%, or approximately $10 million, of its general operating budget beginning in 2020-2021. Reductions of this magnitude would impact every aspect of school programs and educational services, including teaching positions, class sizes, and of course offerings. Property values would likely decline if the quality of educational programs and opportunities for student achievement declined.
Q: Is the District looking at changes to the levy?
A: Yes. Based on feedback from parents, teachers, principals, and community members, the District is looking at options to enhance our levy. Between now and February, the District is holding a number of listening sessions, meeting with stakeholders, and conducting several qualitative and quantitative surveys to ensure that the levy supports core academic goals, aligns with community priorities, and is affordable for residents.
Q: How do our current levy tax rates compare to surrounding school districts?
A: Lake Oswego has some of the lowest property tax rates in the Portland metro area: lower than Oregon City, Wilsonville, Sherwood, West Linn, Beaverton, Milwaukie, and Portland.
Q: I don't have any kids in the schools. How does the school levy benefit me?
A: Lake Oswego is a strong and vibrant community because we highly value education and the quality of our schools. If we do not renew our school levy, our schools will suffer. A strong school system is very strongly correlated with supporting property values.
Q: Who votes on our school levy?
A: All registered voters in the Lake Oswego School District can vote for the school levy.