EDITORIAL: Separate stadium levy could work

Oak Harbor’s Noon Rotary, which is leading a private fund-raising drive to help build a new high school sports stadium and related facilities, makes sense in urging the school board to go along with presenting a separate stadium bond issue to voters, probably in November 2005.

Some education supporters are understandably worried that this could send the wrong message — that athletics are more important than academics in the Oak Harbor School District. After all, the high school is badly in need of a major upgrade to provide better educational facilities and a safer place for students to learn.

However, this line of thinking fails to look at the big picture. To use sporting language, the school district badly needs a win at the polls, after several successive defeats in efforts to build a new stadium and rebuild the high school. The Rotary can help provide that win, and set the school district on a positive path to the future.

Rotary hopes to raise $1 million, or approximately 20 percent of the cost of new athletic facilities. It’s an ambitious goal that can not be achieved without widespread community support. That support would likely translate into a win at the polls when the school district presents the stadium bond issue totalling about $4.5 million.

Through Rotary’s community outreach, citizens will learn not only of the dire situation our athletic facilities are in, but also of the legitimate needs of the entire high school. This message was never successfully relayed in prior elections, due perhaps to the lack of a grassroots campaign such as the one the Rotary Club can provide.

In short, the Rotary fund-raising effort should make passing a stadium bond issue a breeze by Oak Harbor election standards. That will result in a positive attitude in the community, and the school district can build on Rotary’s effort to educate the public about the broader needs of the high school. The stadium win should propel the school district toward the second, more important, win in a high school upgrade bond election.

Even if that theory doesn’t pan out, at least Oak Harbor High School athletes will have decent athletic facilities for the first time in many years. That alone is progress.

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