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Levy: Community showed its pride
Well Oak Harbor, you did it. You passed a school levy. Passing the levy is cause for celebration. But there is more to celebrate than simply passing an Maintenance and Operation Levy (M&O Levy).
The final vote count was a stunning 68.11 percent. The 60 percent super-majority required of school levies is a high benchmark. Trying to meet it can be a daunting task. The last school levy, of 2001, passed with a healthy 64 percent. This levy topped that, garnering the support of more than two-thirds of the community. In political terms, it means a better education for our children. In community terms, a resounding victory like this builds pride in our schools.
First and foremost, I want to express my pride in this community and my appreciation to the voters for making this possible.
Probably the single most decisive step toward victory was the School Boards resolve to not ask the voters to increase the amount of the existing levy. The board did so in the face of considerable pressure. While the district could have certainly have put the additional funds to good use, the more modest and fiscally conservative approach adopted by the board met with overwhelming voter approval. While promoting the levy, I heard from many voters that they were supporting this levy because it was simply a renewal and not a tax increase.
Even so, levies dont pass themselves. Like every other successful political campaign, this one took a lot of hard work. Many thanks to the levy committee members (you may have come to know them as Citizens for Better Schools or CBS), who launched this effort in July of last year. The committee, volunteers one and all, worked quietly but effectively for nine months to make this happen.
Thank you to all who made the effort possible by contributing financially to the campaign.
Thank you to all the business owners who placed signs in their storefronts and placed messages on their reader boards. Thanks to all who took signs for their yards and car windows.
Thank you for the stream of letters to the editor. And a special thank you to the editor and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times for demonstrating such a strong interest in school issues. The high profile this levy received provided the best coverage of any school levy or bond, in my memory, over the past twenty-plus years.
For the first time in forty years, since 1965 to be exact, this community has passed back to back school levies. The best news is that the community has found a levy formula that is affordable, that funds essential programs and that meets with voter approval. This bodes well for the future of education in Oak Harbor.
William H. Hawkins