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Months of work by Oak Harbor school group pays off with win

Parents, students and teachers gathered to thank the North Whidbey community for approving a tax levy that will bring millions of dollars into the Oak Harbor School District. From right are Christine Abbott, Tyler Abbott, Regina Ward, Brock Boyer, Mikki Boyer, MaryAnn Duhrkopf and Ethan Abbott.   - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Parents, students and teachers gathered to thank the North Whidbey community for approving a tax levy that will bring millions of dollars into the Oak Harbor School District. From right are Christine Abbott, Tyler Abbott, Regina Ward, Brock Boyer, Mikki Boyer, MaryAnn Duhrkopf and Ethan Abbott.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Volunteers for the Citizens of Better Schools began working last summer to sway voters in favor of a four-year replacement levy that would benefit the Oak Harbor School District.

Their efforts paid off with voters approving the levy by just over 54 percent margin, which is above the 50 percent mark needed to pass.

The 54.52 percent approval is higher than an initial count that was released Tuesday evening by the Island County Auditor’s Office after the polls closed.

Michele Reagan, deputy auditor, said the county is bound by statute to release new counts whenever the elections office has at least 500 uncounted ballots. Staff is only receiving a handful of ballots a day and it would be unlikely that a new count would be released until the election is certified Feb. 26.

Lynn Goebel, co-chairwoman for Citizens for Better Schools, said the campaign to promote the levy started in the summer of 2012. Volunteers staffed a booth during Oak Harbor’s Fourth of July celebration.

The campaign went into high gear in November with a levy kickoff that featured live music and levy supporters could pick up their signs and sign up to volunteer.

“The commitment level and enthusiasm from the parents, community and staff is something I’ve never seen before,” Goebel said.

Volunteers were busy in recent weeks waving signs at businesses and intersections throughout town along with door belling to get the word out about the levy.

School administrators met with community groups for months sharing the specifics about the district’s proposal.

With the results known, several dozen volunteers spent a damp Thursday afternoon on the corner of State Highway 20 near Safeway thanking voters for their support.

The levy will bring in $7.35 million, plus an additional $1 million in state levy match, that will be used to fund teaching positions, instructional assistant positions, technology upgrades, textbook purchases and more.

The levy will also fund areas that were lost in recent years due to funding reductions by the state and federal government.

Teaching positions, middle school athletics, after-school tutoring are some of the items that will be restored due to the levy.

A homeowner will pay a rate of $1.98 per $1,000 assessed property value, or $495 for a $250,000 home. That rate is nearly double the current levy rate of $1.

Oak Harbor School Board will hold a workshop next week to discuss how to implement the levy. That workshop is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the school district’s administration building, 350 S. Oak Harbor St.

 

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