BEND, Ore. - In classroom parlance, it'd be hard to argue that the Sisters School District did anything but ace the test – and they'd done their homework -- winning voter approval of a $6.8 million, five-year local option levy by a nearly 4-to-1 ratio Tuesday night.
The numbers as of late Tuesday night showed 2,725 yes votes, or more than 79 percent, to 716 no votes, or just under 21 percent, with a strong ballot return of nearly two-thirds (63 percent of the ballots mailed).
It actually took clearing two hurdles – since it was all alone on the special election ballot in Deschutes County, the measure first needed to get more than 50 percent of mail ballots returned by Tuesday. That hurdle was cleared late last week, with days to spare
The local option measure in Sisters began in 2000, with voters agreeing to extensions in 2004 and 2009. It would have expired in June without a new vote of approval.
The campaign pitched a levy that kept the same tax rate, of 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $130 for the owner of a $172,000 home, the average in the district.
Superintendent Jim Golden said the main goal of the levy would be to keep class sizes small and retain classes in the arts and music.
The local option, which goes into the district's general fund, has made up just under 10 percent of the district's operating money over the past four years.
The dollars go well beyond the classroom, to studies of area waterways, a fall expedition to the Middle Sister, and also to keep providing free all-day kindergarten.