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Reedsport levy boosts more than just schools.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Ike Launstein For The Register-Guard

If rural Oregon is going to get a piece of the economic pie and maintain a high quality of life, then each community, within itself, must pull together for that purpose.

Although rural communities adjacent to Oregon's larger cities gain some benefits through economic trickle-downs, those benefits do not reach the small communities of the coast, Eastern Oregon and other rural areas of our state.

One by one, rural communities must come together and determine what contributions each member must make for the betterment of his or her community. Assistance from the outside will be limited at best.

The constant decline of revenue for public education since the passage in 1990 of Ballot Measure 5 and subsequent related measures has been a drain on the quality of life for rural Oregon, as well as in larger communities. Through local option property tax levy elections and such measures as the tax surcharge in Multnomah County, many of Oregon's larger communities are attempting to at least partially plug the hole through which the quality of life for children and communities is draining away.

Oregon's rural communities must also make a commitment to their schools to establish and approve the local option election and other means of providing for the school system.

Currently the rural coastal community of Reedsport is facing the opportunity to approve a local option levy in order to provide a small portion (an estimated $88,000 in 2004-05) of the funds needed to maintain its schools and quality of life. The $88,000 is a pittance when compared to the approximately $900,000 cut from the 2003-04 school year's budget.

During the days when local property taxes supplied the bulk of funding for local schools, the Reedsport School District was a high-quality public school system that could rival any. Through the loss of local control and steadily declining revenues, programs have disappeared and class sizes have dramatically increased.

The local option levy that is the subject of a current election is but a partial answer, but it is an opportunity for one rural community to take responsibility for improving life in their corner of the world.

Make no mistake, the benefits reach far beyond the children in the classroom. A strong school system is vital to attracting new business and professionals to a rural community.

Doctors and hospital professionals who are considering moving to Reedsport visit the schools and evaluate their quality as a regular part of their relocation process. Conversations with new business prospects always include inquiries related to the quality of the schools and the educational opportunities for the entire community. Funding of schools, therefore, is a sound investment.

I urge all of rural Oregonians to focus on the needs of their community and together invest to improve their quality of life. For the citizens of the Reedsport School District, I ask that you join me in investing in our children and community by approving Local Option 10-38.

Ike Launstein is the retired superintendent of the Reedsport School District and chairman of the Lower Umpqua Economic Development Forum. Ballots in the district's local option levy election must be returned by Nov. 4.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 30, 2003
Words:534
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