Oak Harbor schools levy passing in first vote counts

Voters approved the levy with 53.74% voting yes, while 46.26% voted no, according to initial counts.

The majority of voters supported Oak Harbor Public Schools $48.4 million levy, according to ballot counts as of Thursday afternoon.

Voters approved the levy with 55 percent voting yes, while 45 percent voted no.

There are an estimated 25 ballots left to count. The next election update will be at 1 p.m. on Feb. 19. Voter turnout was almost 40 percent.

Levies need a simple majority to pass in Washington state.

The estimated tax rate will be $2.28 per $1,000 assessed property value and will be collected from 2022-2025. It was the same rate taxpayers paid this year because increased property values decreased the levy rate from $2.55 to $2.28 in 2020.

The school district sets a total amount of funds it wishes to collect and estimates the tax rate, so it can fluctuate from year to year.

Levies pay for athletics, arts, advanced classes and other programs that state education funding does not cover.

Local funds also pay for paraeducators, mental health counselors and the overwhelming majority of the school district’s nurses.

The school district also receives some federal funding because it cannot collect property taxes on federally owned property in the area.

Superintendent Lance Gibbon and John Diamond, president of the Oak Harbor school board, responded to the levy’s approval in an emailed joint statement.

“We know this has been an incredibly hard time for our staff, families and community and we are very grateful for this investment in our students’ future,” the email said.

“We know this pandemic has taken a toll on everyone — especially our students. This levy assures that we can begin the process to heal, restore and rebuild all that our students have lost.

“This is a vote of confidence from our community in the great work our schools have done, are doing and will do for our students in the years to come.”

Although the majority of voters approved the levy, there were some people in the community who rejected it.

Two parents read a community letter during the Monday school board meeting the night before the election.

The letter criticized the school district’s COVID-19 restrictions and alleged it was indoctrinating students, in addition to saying the authors did not support the levy.

“We cannot support a school levy that does not support our children and their education,” the letter said.

Jessica Thompson was one of the authors of the letter and read it to the school board. Her husband, Brandon, also read part of the letter and signed it. There were more than 70 signatures, she said.

The election will be certified on Feb. 19.

More in News

The new Mukilteo terminal's east elevators (left near stairs) are now open. They're located just a few steps from the transit center. (Washington State Ferries)
Study examines Everett-Whidbey passenger ferry service

So far, no government is seriously considering such a service, which would cost millions of dollars.

Photo by WhidbeyHealth
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, with WhidbeyHealth Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer and pharmacy director Dr. Tony Triplett discuss vaccine processes during Larsen’s visit last Friday.
Larsen talks vaccines at OH council

The federal government would be releasing 13.5 million doses this week, he said.

Previously convicted of vehicular assault, man charged with DUI

Prosecutors charged Brian Shelley, 50, in Island County Superior Court Feb. 17 with felony DUI.

Smokey
Smokey Bear gone but not forgotten

A cutout sign has been missing for six months.

Engle
Assessor picked as permanent planning director

Mary Engle has been credited with fixing problems in the department with her straight-forward, no-nonsense style and administrative abilities.

COER: New opinion of EA-18G impacts needed

Bob Wilbur, chairperson of COER, said the group will wait for the results of the consultations before deciding whether to file a lawsuit.

Vaccination rate will need a booster to meet goal set by state

Island County had received fewer vaccines, per capita, than most other counties while the county has a higher-than-average number of elderly people.

Photo by John Fisken
Senior Caden Leckelt during Oak Harbor vs. Ferndale varsity foodball game on Feb. 20. The Wildcats lost 41-7.
School sports back, but fans told to go online

All three school districts have been exploring streaming options for sports.

The ‘Angel de la Creatividad’ sculpture is currently bright red, but it is unknown whether it will stay that color if it is installed in Oak Harbor. Rendering provided
‘Angel’ sculpture mulled, others move forward

City council members voted to direct staff to explore accepting the 37-foot-tall gift.

Most Read