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School budgeting wins plaudits
We have cause for relief and celebration here in Oak Harbor because our public schools will not be making severe cuts to personnel and programs that other school districts are forced to make. For example, in Everett over 60 staff positions will be eliminated; in Arlington the number is about 40. Statewide, about 5,000 teachers will lose their jobs due to the recession. None of those fired teachers will be from Oak Harbor. Why? The superintendent and school board have been taking decisive, proactive, and prudent actions over several years.
In the past, the superintendent and school board eliminated 20 teaching positions due to declining enrollment without firing anyone (relying on attrition and retirements), closed Clover Valley Elementary School, and passed a modest levy way below the state average (75 cents versus $2.20), but that still provides enough money to pay for what has been promised to the voters since 2001. Through skillful and vigilant administration of bond dollars, the high school is under budget, which means that the community will receive more than what its taxes fund; this continues a trend begun in 1996 and benefits future students for years to come.
The visionary and responsible approach of school leaders, coupled with help from the federal government, have protected jobs and programs. Consequently, class sizes will remain stable, many younger teachers freshly-trained will not be fired, and popular and effective art, P.E., remedial, AP, and enrichment classes will continue to be available when Oak Harbor community kids attend school in September.
The Oak Harbor School District continues to prove that it is a good steward of the public purse and the public trust.