Voters should be checking their mailboxes this week to see if they received their ballot for a levy election benefiting the Oak Harbor School District.
Ballots were mailed to most voters this week and they have to be postmarked by Feb. 12 in order to be counted.
The Oak Harbor School District is asking voters to approve a replacement levy they most recently approved four years ago. The new levy has to pass by a simple majority.
This time around, officials are asking for additional support that will help offset cutbacks the district had to make over the past four years due to budget cuts at the state and federal level.
If approved, a property owner would pay $1.98 per $1,000 assessed property value, which equates to $495 a year for the owner of a $250,000 home. The proposed levy rate is nearly double of the current one, which stands at about $1.
“This is strictly a needs based levy proposal,” Schulte said Wednesday afternoon.
If approved, the expanded levy will pay for the current 20 teachers it has funded for years, but it will also pay for an additional 14 teaching positions of the 34 that have been cut in recent years. The proposed levy devotes $3.2 million for the classroom. In addition to teachers, it will also restore 30 minutes to the middle school day and restores seven half days. The levy will also fund seven instructional assistant positions and add several more that were lost through budget cuts.
Oak Harbor school officials earmarked $2.3 million in levy dollars for textbook and technology purchases and upgrades.
Officials will devote $700,000 to athletics, music and tutoring that will restore the activity bus and after-school tutoring, hire assistant coaches that had been cut, restore middle school athletics, and protect cuts to current athletic programs.
Special Education will receive $500,000 worth of levy dollars which would restore four teachers and six instructional assistants to the program along with restoring training and resources.
The school district would restore six custodial staff while continuing funding for 9.5 employees with the $1.6 million tied to maintenance and custodial services.
Rick Schulte, superintendent of the Oak Harbor School District, said even with the increase, the levy will bring in less dollars per pupil than levies at neighboring school districts, or at other school districts in Washington state serving military populations.
He said the state authorizes school districts to have levies at 28 percent of expenditures and many of those school districts are at or near that level. Even with the approval, the school district’s levy will account for
School officials have been busy talking with community groups, service clubs, PTA groups, retirement groups and political parties about the specifics of next month’s levy election.
In addition, a volunteer group, Citizens for Better Schools, have been busy waving signs, doorbelling and promoting approval for the levy.
They can be seen waving signs at the corners of Barrington Drive and Highway 20 along with the corners of Whidbey Avenue and Highway 20.