What a year for the Oak Harbor School District!
Whether it’s Oak Harbor High School’s Robotics and DECA teams shining in major competitions, or students like Austin McBride, who recently competed in the National Junior Olympics Men’s Air Rifle, it’s clear that things are going very right.
For longtime Oak Harbor residents, it doesn’t seem that long ago that the district couldn’t pass a levy to save its life. Starting in the late 1970s, perpetual levy failures eventually led to the elimination of sports programs. Some student athletes packed up and headed to other schools in the area, including Anacortes.
That was a dark time for the school district, but oh how times have changed.
For the first time, Oak Harbor High School is rated in the top third of public schools in the country by the national magazine U.S. News & World Report.
That distinction has earned Oak Harbor schools the magazine’s bronze medal.
U.S. News and World Report establishes compiles its rankings each year from among more than 21,500 public schools. Those rankings take into account state proficiency test results, graduation rates and how well students are prepared for college-level work.
“This is a reflection of our efforts across the district,” said Oak Harbor Superintendent Lance Gibbon. “We’ve got a high school team building an exemplary program.”
The dedication shown by Gibbon, Oak Harbor School Board and district staff to improve the performance of Oak Harbor schools has been strategized, consistently implemented and, clearly, effective.
In 2012, three-quarters of Oak Harbor High School students graduated on time. Last year, however, the on-time graduation rate rose to 85 percent That’s a better rate than nearly every other school district in the area.
Community support of Oak Harbor schools cannot be discounted. Although Oak Harbor faced hard times during the recession, voters showed faith in the district and, in 2013, approved a levy allowing the district to fund services to improve graduation rates as well as programs for students.
In return for that voter confidence, the school district has walked its talk.
There are those who will grumble about paying levy taxes toward schools — that’s inevitable. The fact is, all of us expect that our public schools produce an educated, skilled work force.
As promised, Oak Harbor is meeting that expectation, and then some.
We extend our congratulations to Superintendent Gibbon, administrators, teachers, staff, students and community for their united effort to improve the state of our schools.