Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sisters passes local option tax yet again

For the third time, Sisters passed a local option tax on Tuesday, this time by an overwhelming margin of 79 percent to 21 percent.

And, it did so with a turnout of 63 percent, thus easily surpassing the 50 percent mandated in our ridiculous "double majority" voting scheme.

Yes, that's right, the place with the highest property values in Central Oregon just decided again to renew a property tax to support smaller class sizes, a full school year (only in Oregon is this in doubt), and a host of curricular programs.

The Great Recession pummeled Sisters, as it has everywhere else, so the passage of this local option is truly impressive.

Sisters is the only school district in Central Oregon to pass a local option tax to supplement state aid that has fallen short for much of the past 10 years.

Because of this, Sisters attracts families from around the state and the region looking for a place that supports public education the way Sisters does. It helps that Sisters' schools rank high in state assessments.

It's an amazing thing to see in an age when all we hear is the whining about deficits and what we can't do to fund education.

Other districts in Central Oregon have passed school construction bonds and Bend has another one slated again this year.

While construction bond approvals are fantastic, much of their financial support for passage comes from the development/construction community that benefits directly from passage of such a bond in the form of construction contracts.

When the construction/development community doesn't directly benefit, it opposes operating bonds or local options. That's what happened in Bend earlier this century.

Kudos to the good folks in Sisters who have rallied yet again around their three schools -- elementary, middle and high -- as a source of community pride.

That support is so deep that when a construction bond to add classes to the elementary school was narrowly defeated in the 1990s, members of the community got together and built the needed classrooms with their own hands, time and materials.

It would be great to see other cities and state legislators show support for education the way Sisters has over the years.

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