July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:31 PM
"We're going to come right to the point - vote yes on the Oak Harbor school levy.We think the Oak Harbor School District has earned the right for some relief from more than three decades of stinginess and apathy on the part of this community.Some may point to the $26 million construction bond that local voters passed in 1996 as proof of community support, but let's face it, the local schools had to literally be falling apart and leaking like a sieve before action was taken. We think it's a shame to approach the education of our kids with the same last-minute, crisis-mode way of thinking.The maintenance and operations levy on the March 13 ballot, Proposition 1, is really a modest request for support. It will not turn Oak Harbor schools into plush resorts or turn local kids into pampered prodigies. What it will do is give the kids a fighting chance to compete in a working world that is quite different than it was in the so called good ol' days. At the same time, it will give the school district and its dedicated staff the chance to offer students the options, programs and instruction time kids in nearly all other school districts take for granted.The levy buys more teachers and instructional assistants so that classrooms won't be crammed with more than 30 students. It puts back a full half hour of the elementary school day that had to be cut to stay within the community's miserly moratorium on local support. It puts qualified professionals in physical education and art into the elementary schools. It provides help to special education programs so that every child has an opportunity to succeed and it gives advanced students the classes and instruction they need to stay motivated and get a head start on their futures.We can't see anything wrong with any of these goals.We readily admit that the current system of funding education is broken and that state lawmakers have to start living up to their promises and their mandate to pay the full price of basic education. But until the system is fixed, we as a community have an obligation to make sure our children and their places of learning don't get cheated.The saddest part of Oak Harbor's losing-levy legacy is the large number of non voters, particularly parents of school-age children, who don't bother to even cast a vote. We can only hope that they have gotten the message this time and go to the polls.No voters often criticize levies, saying it should be parents who take the responsibility for their own kids. Actually we think those no voters may be on to something. If parents accept their responsibility and vote, the latest levy will pass and Oak Harbor will be able to cast off its reputation as the community that can't say yes. "