By MICHELLE KUSS-CYBULA
Superintendent, Oak Harbor Public Schools
On Feb.14, 2023, Oak Harbor voters will consider approving a $121 million school bond measure for Oak Harbor Public Schools that would replace three aging school buildings, enhance safety and security, and address critical needs of the community.
If the bond is approved by voters, the tax rate is expected to be approximately $1.24 per $1,000 assessed property value, which would be 30 cents less than what taxpayers are currently paying for the previous bond measure that expires in December.
After receiving feedback from our community, the Oak Harbor School Board of Directors narrowed the scope of this bond measure to focus on our highest areas of need and capitalize on matching funds by the Department of Defense and the state of Washington.
In 2020, Oak Harbor Public Schools was notified of our eligibility to receive 80% matching funds for the total cost to rebuild Crescent Harbor Elementary and Hand-in-Hand (preschool)/HomeConnection (Parent Partnership Program) due to the sites serious capacity limitations and poor conditions in comparison to other public schools on military installations in the United States. For every dollar contributed by our Oak Harbor tax payers, 96 cents will be matched by federal and state funds. The reimbursable funding by the Department of Defense is only available if the bond is approved and construction begins in a timely manner.
The bond measure would also allow for safety enhancements at all Oak Harbor Public School sites by establishing single-points of entry and improving our security systems, which is a priority expressed by our parents and community. Lastly, this measure addresses two critical needs of the community: child care/early learning and a growing population near Fort Nugent Park. If approved, the bond would build a school on the property owned by the district to address overcrowding in all of our elementary schools. The Oak Harbor Elementary site would be repurposed to address the urgent need for more early learning and child care on the island and the additional green space allows for partnership with our community to provide additional field space in the center of town.
A recent article published in the Columbian outlined Washington’s school funding structure and why community support is critical to the success and longevity of our community schools.
More information on the upcoming school bond measure can be found on the OHPS website, www.ohsd.net/bond2023.