What's next after failed school levy in Oregon?

By Colleen Wells - bio | email

Posted by Dave Dykema - email

OREGON, OH (WTOL) - School district leaders in Oregon are trying to figure out what's next after voters turned down a 5.95 mill emergency levy 3-1 on Tuesday.

"It certainly is disappointing, I'm not going to hide my feelings. I am very disappointed in the results," says Dr. Mike Zalar, Superintendent, Oregon City Schools.

Defeat lingered at Wednesday night's Oregon School Board meeting.

Following a resounding "No" from voters, nearly 50 people sat in, wanting to know what's next and urging the board to act wisely.

"Please remember the quality of the education," says Tracy Hecklinger-Bolander, an Oregon parent. "I want our children to be able to compete with those other schools- and I'm willing to get into my wallet, but you have some more work to do."

For nearly an hour the board debated two options.

The first, putting another levy on the November ballot.

The second, waiting until next year to ask voters for more money.

Leaders say a change in state law hit the district in the gut. They've lost a quarter of their tax revenue funding and have cut more than $7 million from their budget.

But say it's still not enough.

"Because that was voted down, it doesn't solve our problem, it just prolongs our problem," says Dr. Zalar. "Because, at some point in time, this district is going to need additional revenue."

Leaders say they can financially survive this school year but will need money from voters eventually.

Two board member voiced support for another levy in November.

But the board's president, Jeff Ziviski, says voters sent a strong message Tuesday. "It's tough to look past a 76% non-approval of the levy. You have to listen to the voters sometimes. And be like, take a step back, regroup, rethink our approach, and find out if there are addition cuts that can be made."

The board has until next Friday, August 14, to decide what they'll do.

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