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Grades Are Skewed

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Only 15 of 105 school-district levies were approved by Oregon voters this month, according to Jan Ryan, the state's assistant superintendent for public instruction.

"We're concerned about the vote, but we realize that residents tend to vote 'no' the first time, forcing the districts to go back and trim budgets for the next ballot," she said.

All the levy votes are for the next school year; the districts will have another chance to pass the measures.

The state has no sales tax and depends heavily on the property tax to fund schools. But since many districts have an inadequate tax base to support schools, school officials have to go back repeatedly to local residents for operating funds, a process that often disrupts education, Ms. Ryan said.

According to Ms. Ryan, state lawmakers passed a bill this year that would have established a sales tax, but the legislation was declared unconstitutional.--sr

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