The abundant signage appearing in our community, rallies, brochures, meetings as well as letters and articles in the WNT supporting the Levy is noted with interest and attests to the great deal of effort both monetarily and otherwise that is being expended by the OHSD to promote the 2013 M & O Levy proposal, which is almost 3 times that of any previous levy.
Granted, we have an” impressive school facility” as Megan Hansen, Editor of WNT so aptly stated in her OPINION article. She also concluded that , ‘both sides should be heard with open ears’. With the focus being on the education and welfare of our students and the involvement of taxpayer’s pocketbooks, the following facts, for voter’s consideration, can be found on the web sites of the Dept. of Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, US News and World Report “Best Schools in the Nation, 2012 , OHSD Budget, and OHEA to name a few.
OHSD’s SAT Scores (Scholastic Aptitude) were once on par with the state average and neighboring school districts in all areas including math, reading and writing prior to 1997, but have fallen significantly since 2001. Our graduation rate is lower than districts near us and our National Ranking is non-existent. As for our State Ranking, we are #175 out of 426 high schools. Where are the trophies for Scholastic Bowls? Where is our WA State Distinguished District Medal for Academic Excellence? The districts nearby such as Coupeville, South Whidbey and Anacortes have them, but we do not. Why is that?
Not all money budgeted in the levy is for Maintenance and Operations. An increase inTri-Day money (requested by the teacher’s union) is included in this levy proposal. It is money, over and above the salaries and insurance benefits, given to the teachers as bonuses and currently ranges from $2,000 to $33,000. Compared to Washington State’s average teacher’s salary of $53,056, OHSD’s average teacher’s salary is $56,401, which makes them the highest paid district in our area. Is more money for bonus pay costing the taxpayers approximately $1.9 million and $12 million dollar bus barns what this district truly needs, or should the money be spent on more tangible items such as text books, technology, classroom equipment, and an “actual 180 day student- in- attendance school year with full-schedule days”?
We find it disconcerting that teachers and administrative officers from this district would mislead the parents and citizens of this community with statements in the WNT concerning the academic standing of this district as being ‘placed up with any district in the United States’, or ‘our children are getting the best education possible’ when our students going without textbooks and statistics prove otherwise. We also find it disconcerting that our school board does not put forth a proposal that properly addresses the academic needs of our students. Every other district in our area stresses academics above all else. Shouldn’t we?