Ziviski seeks more transparency from the Oregon School Board

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Jeff Ziviski and Heather Miller were re-elected to the Oregon City Schools board of education last Tuesday. Both were unopposed.
        Ziviski received 2,544 votes, and Miller received 2,488 votes.
        Although he was unopposed, Ziviski offered comment on winning a fourth term to the board.
        “To be able to stick around this long I think shows that the community likes what I bring to the board. First of all, I have kids in the district. I think that’s very important that school board members have children in the district. It makes them accountable for their actions and decisions – they are invested. Also, I think a lot of the community respects that I am honest with them. I offer that other/alternative opinion and viewpoint. Trust me, it’s not as rosy and positive as others portray. There is another `real side’ to the district that I try to show people without `airing the district’s dirty laundry.’ I believe people appreciate that I attempt to have honest and transparent discussions, either with them directly or at board meetings,” he said.
        Ziviski said he has concerns that some board members do not support his preference for transparency at board meetings.
        “I have had board members ask me not to ask so many questions at the board meetings and if I had questions to either stop by the board office and get them answered before the meeting, or to email the questions to administrators so they can prepare their answers. I don’t quite understand that approach. It’s not my style. I like to have open, frank, transparent discussions in our open public board meetings if I have questions,” he said. “If I have a question, there are probably others in the district and community that have the same questions. So everyone benefits from open dialogue.”
        Ziviski said the biggest challenge facing the district is controlling expenses that had been flat for the past 10 years but is not forecasted to increase by approximately $2-$3 million annually.
        The Oregon Board of Education on Thursday, Oct. 24, passed a resolution by a vote of 4-1 to put a 4.95 mill levy on the March 17, 2020 ballot. The board must vote again in December to make it official. Ziviski was opposed.
        If the levy passes next year, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $173 annually. The district would collect $2.78 million annually from the levy.
        “The district cannot ask the community to make up its deficit with only levies. There needs to be a certain level of fiscal management and control in place for the district. It’s simple. If your household income is $2,000 per month, you can’t spend $3,000 and have your neighbor pay an additional $1,000 for you. It is true that school funding leads to schools asking for new levies every three to five years.  Normally, communities are supportive of levies. But they also want to see the benefits from the levies and a plan. As the district goes through these discussions over the next couple of months, I think everyone knows I will be open and honest about the district’s financial situations. All I want is for the community to have accurate and complete information so they can make their own informed decisions. The board cannot push the levy on the community. It’s a journey that we take together.”


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