District plans to bring bond back to voters

The Oak Harbor School Board will make a second attempt at a bond to fund new school buildings.

The Oak Harbor School Board will make a second attempt at a capital projects bond to bring new school buildings to the district.

At a board meeting Sept. 26, board members voted to pursue a bond measure that would include the construction of two new elementary schools and a new HomeConnection/Hand-in-Hand Early Childhood Learning Center, as well as security enhancements for other buildings in the district.

The bond will come to voters on next year’s February ballot. In February of this year, voters shot down a $184 million bond measure that would have funded construction of three new elementary schools, the learning center and a new transportation center. The measure, which needed a 60% supermajority to pass, received less than 45% of the vote.

For their next attempt at passing the bond, board members have cut back on their requests to make the measure more palatable to voters. In a 3-0 vote, board members Lynn Goebel, Bob Hallahan and Erik Mann decided to pursue a $121 million bond that would fund the three buildings and some security enhancements. School safety and security was identified as the top priority among community members and staff members who were surveyed about their concerns in the district.

The bond options proposed by Superintendent Michelle Kuss-Cybula included $4 to 8 million worth of upgrades to Memorial Field. After some discussion, board members present at the meeting ultimately decided to cut the field upgrades from the bond project list.

“I struggle with having the community tell us that they couldn’t afford all of these schools, and then thinking about spending $8 million on play fields,” Mann said.

Goebel agreed, saying that there were five items on the failed bond measure and five proposed items on the new bond with the field upgrades included. Sports are critical for students, she said, but the bond might not be the right way to fund field upgrades.

Hallahan said he would like to see the field upgrades eventually added to a capital projects levy, along with the new transportation center that was cut from the bond project list.