Central Oregon

Sisters schools celebrate big win at ballot box

After big win, will May school measures also pass?

Sisters School District thanks voters

SISTERS, Ore. - Sisters voters passed a school district local option tax Tuesday night -- nearly 80 percent of those voting supported the plan. As you might expect, it was all smiles at the school district headquarters Wednesday.

Passing the levy is worth $1.2 million a year to the district - so it means there won't be any cuts.

Three other Central Oregon school districts will ask voters for financial help in May, and they're optimistic of success.

Around $130 million -- that's how much Bend-La Pine ($96 million), Culver ($9.75 million) and Crook County ($31.5 million) school districts will be asking from voters in May. 

"It's a telling sign that Central Oregon voters continue to support schools in this down time, and makes us very optimistic about our school bond coming forward," said Andy High, co-chair of the Bend-La Pine Schools' bond campaign. Their measure is for capital construction for future growth, instead of operations.  

"We would first build a new middle school and new elementary school," High said. "And all the other schools will receive security and other upgrades that need to happen, and energy upgrades."

The Crook County and Culver measures are for repairs and upgrades.

As for the Sisters School District, the sign outside the administration building said it all: "Thanks for keeping Sisters strong."    

"We ran a real positive campaign," Superintendent Jim Golden said Wednesday. "We engaged the community and discussions about why we need the local option funds, because the state no longer provides adequate funding for what we believe is a proper education."

The bond pays for teachers to keep class sizes low, offer free full-day kindergarten, keep its arts programs and also retain elective classes.

"It allows us as a smaller school district to maintain comprehensive program for all our kids," Golden said. "And it also honors our  tradition in Sisters of valuing children in our education and our public schools. It's a big deal."

Another positive note for Sisters residents: Taxpayers won't see any increase in their taxes.

Instead, the new levy maintains the current rate of 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.  

Golden boasts that Sisters has the lowest tax rate of any local school districts.

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