Bond voter’s pamphlet nixed

The Oak Harbor School District has published an informational voter’s pamphlet for bond and levy elections in the past. Such pamphlets outlined the measures and offered the pros and cons of each project.

That voting aid won’t be available in the weeks leading up the the May 16 bond election. The school district won’t publish a voter’s pamphlet.

Rick Schulte, superintendent of the Oak Harbor School District, said during Monday’s school board meeting that the publication hasn’t been effective.

“I don’t think it’s proven its usefulness,” Schulte said.

He said the space limits of a voter’s pamphlet make it an ineffective way to present information about the bond.

“A 200-word limit is inadequate to present information for or against,” Schulte said. The Island County Auditor’s Office publishes the pamphlet and limits the space available to participating districts.

Schulte said other forms of communication, such as letters to the editor in local newspapers, are more effective than the pamphlet.

Schulte said the school district plans to send out an information piece that would outline the need, costs and rate for the modernization bond. He expects that to get mailed out approximately a month before the election.

The $54 million bond would help pay for a modernization of Oak Harbor High School, which was built in the early 1970s.

It would cost the school district approximately $2,000 to produce such a pamphlet, however, that wasn’t the main factor in deciding not to go forward with the pamphlet, Schulte said in a Tuesday morning interview.

Kathy Jones, member of the school board, said she initially wanted to see a voter’s pamphlet because it would reach all voters, which other forms of communication may not reach.

After the meeting, she said the 200 word limit wouldn’t be enough space to present all aspects of the bond proposal.

“It is a complex project and there is a lot of different facets to it,” Jones said.

Nobody on the five-member board would make a motion to approve a voter’s pamphlet and the idea died without a vote.

Oak Harbor resident Scott Hornung, a frequent board critic, said after the meeting he wasn’t surprised when the board decided not to publish a pamphlet. He said that, without a voter’s pamphlet, only one-sided information will get out voters.

Informational flyers from the school district by law can not recommend a yes vote, but they do not have to include the views of opponents.

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