News

Citizens rally for school bond

Oak Harbor school supporter Pete Hunt might have been joking when he said the high school was built, “before computers were invented,” but Tuesday’s school bond rally was no laughing matter.

More than 150 people sat on folding chairs in the high school’s multi-purpose Parker Hall at a rally sponsored by Citizens for Better Schools, to officially kick off the campaign to pass a $45 million school construction bond March 11.

The bond would cost homeowners an estimated 90 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, or $135 a year on a $150,000 home over a 16-year period.

It would cover new construction and remodeling at the high school, as well as pay for a new performing arts center and sports facility. The state would match the bond funds with $12 million budgeted for that purpose.

Lynn Goebel of Citizens for Better Schools said it is a common misconception that the state pays for building schools.

“The state does not build schools, local communities build schools,” she said. The majority of funding for school construction and maintenance comes from local levies.

In a computer slide presentation put together by Oak Harbor High graduate Mike Mallari, Hunt outlined how the high school, built in 1974, has reached its life expectancy.

“Everything’s falling,” Hunt said, showing slide after slide of hanging ceiling tiles and peeling paint.

Hunt pointed out the sprawling school has serious security issues, with 72 points of entry.

“That is an unacceptable amount of access,” Hunt said.

The high school is also overcrowded, with attendance rising from 1,079 students in 1974 to 1,800 today. Those students vie for everything from lockers — there are only 1,600 — to a place to eat lunch. Parker Hall serves as both auditorium and lunch room.

Hunt said the restrooms don’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act access standards, or even provide basic privacy, with some toilets out in the open.

The high school renovation also calls for replacing the crumbling, cross-town Memorial Stadium with facilities on the main campus.

Senior Kyle Leach, wide receiver for the Wildcat football team, told a sad story of the Oak Harbor team playing their first-round playoff game at Mariner High School in Mukilteo.

Leach said Memorial Field, known as “the pit,” was deemed unfit by football officials.

“We finished as the number one seed, but we didn’t get to do it at home,” he told the audience.

“Oak Harbor has become a dominant force, they deserve their own stadium,” he said. “I would love to see Oak Harbor marvel in the beauty of a new stadium.”

Senior Elena Wagner described the humiliation of how visiting teams see Oak Harbor’s athletic facilities, from soggy fields to pitted tracks.

“Other teams grumble about the facilities,” she said. “It’s embarrassing.”

Wagner said she turns 18 this month, and her first act as a voter will be to vote yes on the school bond.

Hilary Figgs, a senior and “self-professed nerd,” had high praise for the high school teachers, but was frustrated with the school’s crowded conditions and equipment in need of constant repair.

“Our classrooms are not as amazing as our teachers,” she said.

A student video told the sad tale of “Jessie’s Day at School.” A camera follows the hapless hypothetical student as he goes to his locker, in the rain, only to find his school report has been stolen because the lock didn’t work. He tries to use a computer to print out another copy, but all computers are in use. He shivers in the underheated library while he waits for a computer. Lunchtime finds him waiting in line, then unable to get a seat. Finally, at the end of the day he heads out, only to be stuck in a traffic jam as all cars try to exit through the only driveway out of the parking lot.

After the thought-provoking presentations people had the opportunity to actively support the effort, from donating money to signing on as pledge captains, who will ask 10 people each to sign a pledge to vote yes.

Goebel said they are hoping for 6,000 yes votes, one for each student in the district. That would give a comfortable margin over the 60 percent needed to pass the bond levy.

Sue Waddingham was one of many who signed up to be a pledge captain. She has three children in Oak Harbor schools, and looks forward to the day when they can study in a modern, updated high school, and have a new sports facility and performing arts center.

“This bond is really necessary,” she said. “There is a great need for a sports facility and performing arts center.”

“This is a winning proposition for all of us,” Hunt said.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 18 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates