Letters to the Editor

Schools need help passing the levy | Letters

Editor,

Please vote yes for schools.

Well over a year ago, the school board began a series of public hearings to help prioritize the critical programs lost due to state and federal budget cuts.

We talked about what needed to be restored as soon as possible, and what might be put off if required.

I remember wondering what it would take to convince me to support a significant increase. Through the series of hearings and public input I was reminded how serious the situation had become. There were very few cuts in the past four years that had not hurt student learning substantially.

Facts that may help in understanding the need:

Oak Harbor schools have been underfunded for decades. Each of our students receives $1,000 less education funding support per year than the average Washington state student. That is $1,000 less per student, every year.

All other funding comparisons are smoke and mirrors. Passing the levy would almost bring us to the same funding support as our neighboring school districts and the state.

A Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levy does not build or pay for facilities.

Bonds pay for those capital projects. There will always be bonds because each school building requires a major remodel about every 30 years. We try to plan these remodels to keep the bond rates steady and predictable: as one is paid off, another project begins.

The proposed M & O Levy has nothing to do with the stadium.

The costs of building the stadium was fully funded by the original stadium bond, and by law that bond money cannot be used for anything other than what the bond resolution stated when voters approved the bond.

We have eliminated over 30 teaching positions and cut teacher pay by 1.9 percent. Class size is as high as I have ever seen. Our staff is paid a fair average wage, commensurate with the industry.

We were able to replace all district math text books just before the severe funding reductions began. There is no funding to replace any more text books if the levy does not pass.

The Dept. of Defense grants are temporary and are targeted at professional development and peer coaching, targeting reading and math.

The teaching techniques provided by the grant produced outstanding results in student reading scores the last two years. Without the levy there would be no support for programs that were jump started by the Dept. of Defense.

Impact Aid has been our past funding source for athletics and activities, but has been steadily declining over the last five years. Most school districts fund athletics and activities with levies.

The proposed levy will allow stable support of our athletic and activities while putting some impact aid money back into the classroom.

The state does not fund computers and technology. The school board listened to well over 40 hours of workshops and public input before settling on an amount for the upcoming levy vote. We were sensitive to the tax rates that we all would pay.

As a local business person and your elected school board member I will tell you that the current levy proposal is well thought out and is not overreaching.

The need is so important I would be remiss in my duties as a school board member if I did not approve the levy proposal and ask you, the community, for your continued support.

 

Corey Johnson
Oak Harbor School Board

 

 

 

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