Oak Harbor Schools will put a levy to the voters

District currently spends less on each student than any other district in the state

  • Thursday, February 17, 2000 9:00am
  • News

“Are Oak Harbor voters ready to say yes to a school levy this time? The Oak Harbor School Board has decided to find out.In a 4-0 vote Monday night, the board approved a resolution that will place a levy proposition in front of voters in May. If approved, the levy will bring an additional $3.7 million dollars into the district next year.The resolution calls for the money to be spent on a variety of needs including new teachers, new instructional assistants, reduced class size, elementary art and physical education teachers, additional advanced-placement and remedial classes and expanded special education programs.Many of the items have been on a district wish list for decades, but Oak Harbor voters have turned down district levy requests 13 times in the last 30 years. In several cases, voters have given majority support to levies but have failed to come up with the 60 percent super-majority needed for passage.In passing the resolution Monday, school board member Jim Slowik said the parent-based Ideal Schools Committee, which proposed a levy to the board last month, now has a lot of work ahead of it.Now the real job begins, he said. Getting it to the voters and getting them to understand we need it. I think you have a daunting task.The Oak Harbor district is currently one of only 18 school districts statewide that do not have a local levy to support operations. There are 296 school districts in the state. Partly as a result, Oak Harbor currently ranks last in the amount of money spent per student.Without a local levy, the district loses out on state matching money, as well as money generated from the levy itself. Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Rick Schulte said an Oak Harbor classroom of 25 students receives about $26,000 less than the state average each year because of the lack of local levy and state funds.The district’s past experience with failed levies tends to put a damper on the campaign right from the start. But Slowik said things may be different this time.Public opinion on Oak Harbor Schools is much higher than it has been in the past, he said. This levy focuses on children. I’m very excited about voting yes on this.During the meeting, the only voice in opposition to the levy came from former school board member Scott Hornung, who said the board should have considered the taxpayers more in its decision. He said local communities throughout the state are being asked to shoulder too much financial responsibility for education.Hornung also said getting voters to agree to a levy now may jeopardize future projects, such as a new sports stadium or high school remodeling, that will also need taxpayer dollars.Both levy supporters and opponents say they will now take their messages to the voters, who will then get the final say in May.Levy at a glanceWho: Oak Harbor School DistrictWhat: $3.7 million maintenance and operations levy* When: May 16 Duration: Four yearsLevy rate: $1.47 per $1,000 of assessed valuation**Cost on $150,000 home: $220.50 per year* $2.6 million in local dollars and $1.1 million in state matching money** Levy rate may change each year depending upon increases in property values. The levy amount will be $2,600,000 in 2001, $2,750,000 in 2002, $2,850,000 in 2003 and $2,950,000 in 2004. “

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