Residents should be getting their ballots for the Oak Harbor School District levy vote this week.
As voters review their ballots and weigh the pros and cons, I urge people to remember this isn’t just a school issue, it’s a community issue.
Schools weigh heavily on the culture and economic health of a community. Where schools thrive, communities thrive.
Oak Harbor School District’s current levy brings in just under $1 per $1,000 of assessed value. Officials are now asking for $1.98 per $1,000. By approving the levy, the district will be able to keep the teachers currently funded by the existing levy and also add some lost by state budget cuts.
It will also bring new materials and equipment for students and restore programs also lost by cuts.
There has been a lot of public dialogue about all of the things the levy will do, but there hasn’t been discussion about what would happen if the levy doesn’t pass.
I sat down with school officials last week to discuss the levy and I posed the question. It’s something they don’t want to think about.
“Failure is not an option,” Superintendent Rick Schulte told me.
If voters don’t approve the replacement levy, the effects will ripple through the community.
The district estimates 100 people could lose their jobs both by the immediate loss of funding from the levy and then after families leave the district.
Officials estimate more than 300 families would leave in the first year because the district could no longer offer competitive education.
Families leaving the district will take with them all the money they spend in the community, hindering Oak Harbor’s economic growth.
When families move into an area they look at the school districts.
With as much turnover from military families moving in and out, what’s stopping them from choosing to live off island?
The levy is more than a school issue, it’s a community issue.
In order to keep Oak Harbor thriving, all aspects of it must be healthy. Oak Harbor School District cannot be healthy without community support.
I encourage everyone to vote in favor of approving the levy.
—Megan Hansen, Editor