Levy sails along

After three months work, it looks like volunteers earned an “A” as voters easily approved a replacement levy benefiting students in the Oak Harbor School District.

The vote count through Friday shows the levy passing by a 68 percent majority with 5,396 voting yes and 2,529 voting no. That’s about the same percentage as reported Tuesday night in the initial vote count. The levy needs 60 percent support for approval.

“I think the local community is willing to give schools the consistent, steady support they deserve,” said Kathy Jones, president of the Oak Harbor School Board. “We’re just so grateful for that level of support.”

The 75-cent-per-$1,000-assessed-value levy pays for art and physical education programs in the elementary schools, advanced placement classes at the high school, an extended elementary school day and support for the hot lunch program. The levy lasts for four years.

Jones credited widespread community support for the success of the levy.

“The wonderful contributing factor was the support from the business community,” Jones said, adding that community leadership is a key for a successful campaign.

Members of Citizens for Betters Schools, the community group who promoted the levy, are pleased with the unofficial results.

“We’re on our way to becoming a community that passes levies,” said Bill Hawkins, a leader of Citizens for Better Schools. He added it was the first time since 1965 that the community passed back-to-back levies. The levy was first approved four years ago.

Hawkins also credited the school board for deciding to run a simple renewal levy rather than asking taxpayers for more money. He said people were more willing to continue paying the same tax rate.

He saw more support from the city, the paper and the various service clubs with this year’s levy effort.

Even though it looks like voters approved the levy, the results won’t be certified until March 18.

Once the results of the levy are finalized, school officials can start looking at future issues. Voters could see two bond measures in the near future. One proposal would fund construction of a new athletic facility while a second one would fund a remodel of Oak Harbor High School.

Jones said that the school board hasn’t started discussing future bond issues yet.

The board will meet soon with members of the Rotary Fund Raising Coalition, a community group trying to raise $1 million to help offset costs for a new stadium and other athletic facilities.

Jones said a discussion needs to take place whether a bond should move forward as originally planned next November.

Citizens for Better Schools will also be part of any future bond campaign.

Hawkins said the group will hold a debriefing in a couple of weeks to examine the levy campaign. That will provide a starting point for any future campaign.

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