News

Oak Harbor’s main school levy approved

By LIZ BURLINGAME

Staff reporter

Many teachers and support staff in the Oak Harbor School District are relieved that they will be keeping their jobs.

There was some doubt Tuesday night about the levy election’s outcome, but a later vote count Thursday made it official: Oak Harbor School District’s Levy 1 was approved by voters, while they rejected a secondary levy to boost math instruction.

The current levy supports 20 teachers, 12 support staff, and two computer technicians, all of whom can now continue working. The levy approval also spares favorite programs from possible cuts, including Advanced Placement classes at the high school.

Only about 40 votes remain to be counted from the March 10 election. The latest count Thursday showed Levy 1 safely ahead, with 4,585 votes in favor to 4,344 against, for a 51 percent favorable margin. Levy 2 remained at 44 percent for both counts. Fifty percent is required to pass.

School officials were thrilled with the news. Without Levy 1, cuts to current programs and teaching staff would have been required.

“Since 2001 there has been a tradition of community support,” Superintendent Rick Schulte said, referring to the year the first four-year levy was approved.

Property owners will see their school maintenance and operation assessment increase from about 51 cents per thousand to 74 cents per thousand starting next year.

With the defeat of Levy 2, Oak Harbor schools won’t have a ramped-up math program featuring nine new math teachers, math coaches and assistants and newer classroom technology.

Had both levies passed, taxes would have jumped to 98 cents per thousand.

“This is a hard time to ask for taxes,” Schulte said.

School board President Corey Johnson said losing Levy 1 would have been “catastrophic” to maintaining the quality of current programs such as career and technical and AP courses.

“We are grateful that the voters had confidence,” Johnson said.

This was the school district’s first all-mail in election in history. Voter participation was at 42 percent.

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