Unfortunately, our school bond measure that would have replaced three aging schools and enhanced safety for all of our schools failed to meet the supermajority threshold of 60 percent approval.
While we are disappointed in the outcome, we had more people than ever come out and support this bond and our vision for the future of our community as #OneOakHarbor. This positive energy and spirit in our community will keep us going as we determine our next steps.
Bond Project Designs
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is now the right time for the bond measure?
The approval of this bond measure would allow us to rebuild schools that are too old to be renovated, while allowing us to prepare for the continued growth and needs of our schools and community. The schools on the project list were built in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, which means they were not built to handle the current growth and needs of our student population. Additionally, enhancing safety continues to be a top priority for our schools and community.
With building costs increasing, postponing school construction is unlikely to result in cost-savings. The cost of building materials and supply chain challenges are increasing construction costs. Waiting longer to build schools could result in the loss of federal matching dollars, increased construction costs and/or design changes.
The bond proposal utilizes available funds provided by the Department of Defense to reduce the cost on taxpayers. Due to the poor condition, overcrowding, and the locations of Crescent Harbor Elementary and Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center/HomeConnection, the Department of Defense is providing 80 percent of the funding to rebuild these schools. This money is time bound and if the bond is not passed, the funding from the Department of Defense goes away.
Why can't the bond proposal just include the two schools that will have DoD funding? (Updated 12/13)
There are a few reasons the Board of Directors decided to put these three schools on the upcoming bond proposal.
The three projects were selected based on aging facilities, available matching dollars (from the state and federal government) and the overall positive impact it would have on students by reducing overcrowding, increasing capacity in all elementary schools, limiting the use of portable classrooms, and focusing on the areas where there is the highest growth.
The Department of Defense matching dollars only fund rebuilding Crescent Harbor and Hand-in-Hand/HomeConnection to accommodate these schools' current number of students. The third school, which is seven percent funded by a State match program, will be large enough to address the overcrowding happening in the other remaining elementary schools across the district.
What would be included in the safety enhancements for all schools?
Based on community input, the Oak Harbor Public Schools Board of Directors prioritized safety in the current bond proposal. If approved by voters, all Oak Harbor Public School sites will receive safety and security enhancements, which include establishing a single-point of entry, tailoring safety plans to each building's layout, and improving safety and security systems already in place.
Why can’t the schools use ESSER funds to build the new schools and enhance safety?
These funds are already encumbered to address the additional support needed for student learning recovery and acceleration. ESSER funds also went toward providing a robust summer program, offering students the opportunity to participate in various athletic and summer camps.
What is the cost break down of each project?
The cost break down of the local bond contributions (not including the federal and state match dollars):
- Hand-in-Hand/HomeConnection: $14M
- Crescent Harbor Elementary: $13.5M
- New Elementary at Fort Nugent: $81.2M
- Security Projects & OHE South Building Demo: $12.3M
Why do we need to build a new school if enrollment has decreased? (Updated 1/9/2023)
Year over year, our enrollment numbers have been steady in our elementary schools, but we have added programs such as all-day kindergarten, which requires smaller class sizes and additional spaces not currently available in our elementary schools. The elementary schools are overcrowded with approximately 24 temporary, portable classrooms accommodating the additional students and programs. Every available classroom space is utilized in our schools and more space is needed. Approximately 430 elementary school students are in portable classrooms on a daily basis.
What about schools not included in the bond project list?
Based on feedback from the community, the Oak Harbor Public Schools Board of Directors scaled back the project list to focus on the highest priority-schools and the ones included in the Department of Defense funding match. With that being said, we know that many of our schools have aging infrastructure and need repair. If the bond is approved by 60 percent of the voters, this will free up money not spent constantly repairing three aging schools that can then be used on the other school sites in need.
What will happen to the fields at Fort Nugent if a school is built there?
The school at Fort Nugent is proposed to be built on Oak Harbor Public Schools property that was bought more than 40 years ago for future school construction. The school would be built towards the front of the property, which leaves room for many but not all of the existing community-use fields. While in most jurisdictions, school districts are not responsible for providing parks and youth sports fields, Oak Harbor Public Schools understands the importance of these programs to our families and community. Therefore, we are working on potential solutions to provide more fields than are even currently available to the community. If the bond is approved and demolition happens on the Oak Harbor Elementary School property, there would be space for communuty-use fields. In addition, the District is committing to investing in refurbishing and maintaining Old Memorial Park for future community use.
If a new school is built at Fort Nugent, will there need to be new staff hired?
No, the staff members for Oak Harbor Elementary will be used at the school built at Fort Nugent. The number of schools and staff members will remain the same.
Are there any exemptions?
There are some property tax exemptions for senior citizens, disabled individuals, and widows/widowers of veterans. For more information on qualifications for a tax exemption, go to the Department of Revenue website.
Can I register to vote? Can Navy spouses register to vote?
If you are not yet registered, visit voter.votewa.gov before the next election.
To register, you must be:
- A citizen of the United States
- A legal resident of Washington state
- At least 18 years old by election day
- Military members may register
- Military spouses may register even if the active-duty member maintains his or her residency elsewhere.
Why can’t the school district use their existing budget to cover the cost to rebuild schools?
The current state funding model provides schools with enough money for a “basic education,” which does not include additional funding to renovate or rebuild schools to address aging infrastructure and improve learning environments and safety for students. This forces districts to go out for bonds and levies to ask for additional funds to cover the costs.
How do we ensure accountability that the bond dollars will go toward the intended projects?
If approved by voters, the District will ensure timely, consistent communication to the community on progress on projects and spending. One benefit for the Oak Harbor community is that OHPS cannot collect any additional funds for projects. The amount listed on the ballot ($121 million) is the exact amount the district will receive, not a penny more, not a penny less. If the projects come in over budget, it falls on the district to come up with the funds to complete the projects.
Additionally, Oak Harbor Public Schools has a strong record of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. In 2006, the community passed a bond for Oak Harbor High School, which was completed on time and within our budget.
What are the benefits of having modern school buildings in our community?
Modern schools enhance neighborhoods, learning environments and safety for students and families. Additionally, researchers have found that quality school facilities impact student learning and behaviors in the classrooms. Students who aren’t distracted or uncomfortable due to environmental factors remain engaged in learning and better retain information.
Why not remodel instead of rebuild new schools?
Renovation of older buildings is expensive, provides fewer benefits, and often results in unforeseen costs. New, efficient buildings have a longer lifespan, reduce maintenance and operational costs, and improve health, safety and educational opportunities. Modern schools enhance safety and improve learning environments.
In fact, Crescent Harbor Elementary School was recently named the top school in the nation on federal land in need of repair. Hand-in-Hand/HomeConnection wasn’t much further behind on the list.
Will this new bond measure increase my taxes?
If the bond is approved by voters, the tax rate for taxpayers is expected to be approximately $1.24 per 1,000 assessed property value, which would be 30 cents less than what taxpayers paid in 2022 for the previous bond measure passed by voters.
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