Orcas voters overwhelmingly approved the school’s proposed bond and levy measures on the Nov. 7 ballot.
“I am tremendously proud of our Orcas community, and have deep gratitude for the vote of support for both the bond and the levy,” said Orcas Island School District School Board Chairwoman Janet Brownell. “The changes that will be made throughout the campus, from fields to the old gym, to repairs in the elementary and high school, and more, will see the district healthy and maintained well into the future. “
After a bond request for $8 million failed to gain a supermajority by three votes during the February election, OISD’s school board returned to the drawing board with help from the community to devise a new plan. In June, the board added necessary improvements to the bond request, raising it from $8 million to $10.8 million. The board also removed field upgrades from the bond, creating a $1.36 million levy for field improvements and to prepare the area for a new track.
“We wish to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the voters of Orcas Island for your support of our school bond and levy,” said Superintendent Eric Webb. “The passing of the school bond and levy will help to ensure that our students are being educated in safe, warm, and modernized buildings with access to upgraded and improved athletic fields.”
The $10.8 million bond proposed by the Orcas Island School District passed, receiving 73.39 percent of the votes (1,633 ballots). A total of 26.61 percent voted no. The $1.36 million school levy to make field upgrades for a track was approved 65.51 percent of the vote (792 ballots). A total of 34.49 percent voted no.
“The levy will enable us to correct fundamental problems with the original installation of Orcas Island School District athletic fields,” said Webb. “Your bond and levy dollars will be used thoughtfully and deliberately with our students’ best interests at heart to maintain the level of education and provide the opportunities that you have come to expect from Orcas Island School District.”
The $10.8 million bond cost 29 cents per $1,000 of the assessed value of a house for 20 years. The $1.36 million levy will cost 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for a six-year span.
Included on the bond are: water improvements at the high school, including plumbing, sewer and fire suppression ($1,149,388); exterior and interior improvements of the old gym including new paint, siding, seismic, mechanical and electric upgrades ($1,979,189); a new music/multi-purpose room ($1,353,637); and replacing the high school’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
“High school HVAC is a critical [component of the bond] for us. It’s also one we started the design process on, going forward. We want to be able to do this in the summer of 2018. The only way we can do this work is if we start the design process now,” Webb said during a community meeting in September. “Our students will have to go through the winter one more time without heat in the high school. We’ll use space heaters for that.”
A $1.2 million donation made to the district by Phyllis Henigson and her late husband Bob would cover the cost of constructing the track and annual maintenance, but the additional $1.36 million is needed to upgrade the existing fields and prepare the area for the proposed track.
“Your Bond and Levy dollars will be used thoughtfully and deliberately with our students’ best interests at heart to maintain the level of education and provide the opportunities that you have come to expect from Orcas Island School District,” said Webb. “We recognize that our local community supports students not only with the passage of this bond and levy but also with parental involvement, volunteerism and community attendance at sporting events, concerts and other student activities. We are humbled by the support we receive from you year after year.”