Hood River County School Board: Local Option means quality schools without higher taxes

The Hood River County School Board is requesting voters to renew the Local Option Operating Levy in the May 2018 election. Voters first approved the Local Option in 2004, and again in 2008 and 2012. Renewing this funding by voting yes will help maintain our academic programs and staffing levels, athletics, extracurricular programs, Community Education, and a full school year. And the Local Option Levy results in an Oregon State match of approximately $560,000 per year. All without increasing the local school tax rate.

Since the Local Option was last renewed in 2012, we have worked hard to maintain quality schools under fluctuating and insufficient state school funding. Over this time, we have been excellent stewards of our resources:

The school district received its fourth consecutive, totally clean audit opinion.

Our administration did an incredible amount of work to refinance our prior Capital Bond and saved our community members over $700,000 in property taxes.

We achieved an excellent bond rating because of our financial stewardship bringing in more than $9 million in additional, tax free dollars to our 2016 Capital Bond program. This allows us to maintain your facilities and fields at a much higher level than originally planned. Importantly, those Capital Bond funds cannot be used for general operations like paying for teachers — whereas the Local Option Levy goes directly into teaching and learning!

The school district was just awarded the “Certificate of Excellence” for outstanding financial performance by the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO).

While other districts continue to cut school days, teachers and programs for children, our Local Option has provided the funding necessary to provide an excellent education for our students. We have exceptional high school graduation rates and statewide academic outcomes, comprehensive advanced-level and career readiness classes, a highly educated and dedicated work force, strong parental involvement, a model Community Education program, and we maintain first-class buildings and grounds.

We hear over and over again that a community and its local economy are only as good as its schools. We will continue to work hard to make our schools the best they can be for the children and families of Hood River County.

Voting YES to renew the Local Option is critical. It won’t raise your school taxes and it will help maintain schools all of us can continue to be proud of.

Submitted by the Hood River County School Board: Mark Johnson, Chrissy Reitz, Rich Truax, Julia Garcia-Ramirez, Corinda Hankins-Elliott, Ben Sheppard, and Tom Scully.

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