District passes education levy

Hurray, voters say teachers can stay


Hillary Currier

Buttons and flyers in support of the education levy sit on a classic classroom chair. The bond passed with 74 percent approval.

By James Favot, Editor-in-Chief

     Measure 34-285 passed with a 74 percent approval rate in the Oregon midterm elections on Nov. 6. The measure renewed an existing education levy which provides $50 million in supplemental funding to Tigard-Tualatin schools for staff resources.

     This levy serves to fill “[…] what would have been a big hole in the budget,” according to Associate Principal Andrew Kearl. Measure 5, passed in Oregon in 1990, limited the property tax rate for state funding. Since schools were funded mainly through property tax prior to Measure 5 and Oregon is one of the few states without a sales tax, public schools had to advocate for additional funding in other ways.

     Public education currently spends about 40 percent of the state’s budget, but that alone is not always enough to sufficiently finance every school’s needs, particularly in the Tigard-Tualatin district. “It’s not so much that we’re creating a lot more from this funding; it’s more like we’re maintaining our current structure,” Kearl said. Through the extra expenditure provided by the education levy, the district is aiming to hire more teachers and, in turn, reduce class sizes.

     Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith illustrated the process of passing a school funding measure such as this one. “It’s a group effort,” Rieke said.“You have to be very clear in the measure what it is that you’re asking people [to fund].” Creating the levy required cooperation between the district and the city, as well as other community services like the fire and police department, to determine how funding could be attained and distributed.

     Communicating the district’s needs to the public was necessary as well in order to gain local support for the levy. “How incredibly grateful I am to our community for its trust in us and its ongoing support of our work,” Rieke-Smith said. “I think every staff member should feel very much affirmed by the voter’s trust.” In the end, the Tigard-Tualatin community’s majority support for the levy ensured the district’s ability to maintain their staff funding.