SOUNDOFF: Yes vote now will save money

The time to vote on the high school renovation proposal is here. This is the single most important action that we as individuals can take for our children and community in the foreseeable future. Please vote yes on Tuesday, March 11.

Of the six proposals examined by the Oak Harbor School Board this was the one that achieved the perfect balance between value and cost. By creatively combining 56 percent renovation and 44 percent new construction it is a third less than the price of a brand new high school, yet it will be just as adaptable to tomorrow’s technology; potential changes in student population will last just as long. It is the least expensive plan that meets ALL needs, including overcrowding, safety, temporary housing of students during construction, and updating the building to a 21st Century learning environment flexible enough to meet future challenges.

The proposal dedicates just 15 percent of its cost to modern athletic and arts construction, but this will be sufficient to provide adequate facilities for essential programs such as physical education, team sports, band, drama, public speaking, debate, and NJROTC, to name a few. Studies by the publishers of the SAT and ACT, the premier organizations involved with college admissions, show that extracurricular activities are the single most accurate indicator of success in college and beyond, and that they are more valuable that standardized testing of school grades in determining student success.

If this proposal passes, Oak Harbor will finally have a performing arts center for community drama productions and an acceptable stadium and track for legal state playoff games. Both will attract visitors to Oak Harbor and enhance our business climate.

This is a comprehensive plan that incorporates a future vision not simply for the high school, but for Oak Harbor as well. This is why all of our locally elected officials of both political parties have endorsed this plan. That is why local businesses, doctors, and arts interests, as well as education, parent, and sports organizations have endorsed this proposal. A plan of this magnitude is not simple or cheap, but it is an efficient and effective use of our tax dollars.

Interest rates are at record lows, future proposals will only get more expensive, maintenance costs will escalate if we do nothing -- that is a necessity, not a luxury. School construction is, by Washington state law, a community responsibility and we must do this eventually. The cost of delay is extreme. Let’s do it the right way, the efficient way, let’s do it now!

You can make a difference — please vote yes on March 11.

Citizens for Better Schools

Endorsed by: Mayor Patty Cohen, Oak Harbor City Council (unanimous), State Rep. Barry Sehlin, State Rep. Barbara Bailey, State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, County Commissioner Mac McDowell, Island County Treasurer Linda Riffe, Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Whidbey Arts Foundation, North Puget Sound Association of Realtors, Oak Harbor School Board, Oak Harbor High School PTA, Oak Harbor Wildcat Booster Club, Oak Harbor Building Administrators Association, Oak Harbor Education Association, Public School Employees.

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