Letters to the Editor

Feedback: District needs simple majority

Thank you for your March 2 editorial with the header, “State reps miss on levy bill.” I appreciate the fact that you informed the patrons of the Oak Harbor School District that our two Republican state representatives are not representing us very well.

Perhaps Mr. Strow can plead ignorance regarding the history of levies in Oak Harbor. I believe, however, Barbara Bailey is a resident of Oak Harbor. Surely, she has knowledge of the funding challenges in the district and the heartbreak when levies have been supported by a majority of the voters but still have been defeated. When Rep. Bailey was campaigning last fall, I personally spoke to her about this specific issue. I also know that the Oak Harbor School District Board and superintendent have discussed the super-majority issue with our legislators.

It is significant to note that former Republican State Rep. Barry Sehlin also would not support a simple majority for school levies, even though he was also a resident of Oak Harbor. In contrast, Sen. Haugen, a former school board member who understands the need for adequate school funding, has supported the change to a simple majority.

I can understand the frustration of continually raising taxes and the fact that citizens usually don’t have a voice or a choice in the matter. Therefore, the choice is often to vote “no” when school levies or bonds are on the ballot. What I can’t understand is why the schools are held at a higher standard, so to speak, than the library district, the parks and recreation district, the hospital district, the fire district, etc. All of these are worthy causes and necessary for a strong community. A quality education for all students, however, is the cornerstone of a healthy community and of our democracy.

Why would representatives Bailey and Strow believe it is their duty to prevent the citizens of this state from having a chance to vote on the super-majority issue? I believe an educated and informed electorate deserves the chance to decide this issue as provided for in the state constitution. This same constitution (Article IX, Section 1) states, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders ....” Perhaps if the legislature would meet its obligation in this regard, levies and bonds would not be necessary at all. Funding for schools could be passed by a simple majority in the legislature, thus making the super majority a dead issue. Another very positive benefit, especially for students in districts like Oak Harbor, would be a “leveling of the playing field.” Oak Harbor students would have the same opportunities and the same quality facilities as students from every other district in the state.

Finally, thank you to all the people who worked so hard as part of Citizens for Better Schools to pass the recent levy. Also, thanks to the patrons of the district who agreed with the need to continue this modest levy and supported it with their “yes” vote.

Claudia Talmadge

Oak Harbor

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