Oak Harbor schools to start planning strategy for using levy funds
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
March 1, 2013 · Updated 3:08 PM
While voters approved a measure that essentially doubled Oak Harbor School District levy, about half of those extra dollars will be available for the next school year.
Oak Harbor school officials are figuring out what parts of the levy to implement.
The Oak Harbor School District typically receives its tax dollars two times a year.
The district receives approximately 52 percent of state tax dollars in the spring, while the remainder of the funding comes in the fall, which takes place after the 2013-14 school year.
Voters in February approved a four-year levy that will bring in $7.35 million a year for four years, plus an additional estimated $1 million a year in the form of state match.
The levy will pay for teaching and instructional assistant positions, adding class days, restore middle school athletics, protect current athletic programs, textbook purchases, technology upgrades and more. The levy is passing by more than a 54 percent majority.
The Island County Auditor certified the results Feb. 26. The final results show 54.75 percent of the voters approved the levy while 45.25 percent of the voters rejected it.
Oak Harbor School Board met at a workshop recently to discuss how to implement the new levy during the first year and the second year. The board didn’t make any decisions during its workshop.
Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Rick Schulte showed an initial proposal Wednesday to use the initial levy payment.
His proposal adds more learning time, extends the middle school day by 30 minutes, restores kindergarten to a full day, provides dollars for textbook purchases, increases special education along with money for the maintenance department and protects the district’s athletics program.
Several teachers, administrators and parents attended the workshop.
Some said they were pleased the proposal provides an immediate impact for kindergartners and middle school students. Others suggested administrators bring in an extra nurse or also institute tutoring.
Talks about how to implement the expanded levy come at a time of uncertainty about state and federal funding sources.
Schulte noted during the meeting that the state Legislature is debating how to comply with the McCleary case, a recent Washington State Supreme Court decision that found the state wasn’t fully funding education.
“The decision is still very much up in the air,” Schulte said about the Legislature’s efforts to improve education funding.
School officials are also waiting to see how federal “sequestration” will affect budgets.
The district may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars through reductions.
In addition officials are also dealing with funding losses from declining enrollment and with fewer military students attending Oak Harbor schools.
School officials will be developing a budget for the 2013-14 school year in the coming months as more information becomes available.
Several workshops are planned.
The first is 6 p.m. Monday, March 18, at 350 S. Oak Harbor St.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.