District to try levy again

"The Oak Harbor school levy will be back.It may not be in the same form that voters rejected May 16, but school board members said Monday they will try again, perhaps as early as next fall.I think we have no option but to move forward with it, said board president John Dyer. Dyer said the district needs covered by the levy are not going to go away.But the enthusiasm that preceded the May 16 vote was in short supply Monday evening as board members, staff and parents were still reeling from the loss in which fewer than half of area voters approved the $2.6 million maintenance and operations levy request.Board members said they will likely have to scientifically survey the community to find out which parts of the levy voters objected to. The vast majority of the levy would have paid for increased staff to reduce class size, add time to the elementary school day and provide more special education and classroom assistants. But other items, such as support staff for a hot lunch program, summer school and technology upgrades, were also included.Board member Jim Slowik said everything will have to be put back on the table and reassessed.We have to get out there and survey the public and listen to them. Maybe they see our needs differently, he said.District voters have been hard to please. They approved a major remodeling bond in 1996 but turned down all maintenance and operations levies - except one small math textbook levy - in the last 32 years. That kind of record has left Oak Harbor as one of only a handful of districts in the state not supported with a local levy, and has made district officials reluctant to even ask for one. Their last M & O levy request was in 1995. It failed as well.This time, however, school board members said they are not ready to give up.These are not luxuries. We have to get that message out to the community, said board member Kathy Jones. We need to do this sooner than later. The longer we delay the more it's going to cost us."

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