School levy will return in March

Oak harbor School Board votes unanimously to try again.

  • Sunday, October 15, 2000 7:00am
  • News

“It was the bottom of the ninth; the score was 2-0; the Yankees were coming up to bat; and the Oak Harbor School Board was about to take a critical vote. When it was over, the Seattle Mariners and a new school levy proposal both came out victorious.The first game of the American League championship series may have been a bigger draw than the special school board meeting Tuesday night at the Oak Harbor Elementary School gym. Nevertheless, about 50 people turned out to advise the board on a new school levy proposal for the Oak Harbor district.Following a public comment period and about 30 minutes of discussion, the board agreed to place a levy request on a March 13 ballot. The new levy is a slightly scaled-down version of one that failed to pass last May. The May request of $2.6 million received more than a 50 percent yes vote but did not reach the 60 percent super majority needed to pass. Though an exact figure is still being worked out, the new request could be more in the neighborhood of $2.3 million and would be trimmed even more if state ballot Initiative 728 passes in November. I-728 calls for lottery dollars, existing property taxes and state budget reserves to be used for education. It could bring about $1.2 million more dollars into the Oak Harbor district in the first year, if passed. That could reduce the amount the district has to ask local taxpayers to contribute from $2.3 million to about $1.5 million. That amounts to a difference on property tax bills of about 40 cents per $1,000 of a home valuation, from $1.17 per $1,000 down to 77 cents per $1,000.As in last May’s proposal, the district plans to use the levy for such items as increasing the elementary school day; reducing class size by hiring more teachers and assistants; adding new equipment, teaching materials and training; and initiating a hot lunch program in the elementary grades.Dropped from the new proposal is an expanded summer school program. A recent district survey of local citizens revealed that many believe summer school should be paid for by those who use it, rather than by taxpayers as a whole.School board member Jim Slowik proposed that the hot lunch program be run on the ballot as a separate item since some people view it the same as summer school. Other board members disagreed, saying a hot lunch program remains a major need for the district. Though a local community group has already laid the groundwork for a levy campaign, any levy proposal must be approved by the school board before it can be placed on a ballot. “

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