PENINSULA — Local schools will soon be getting numerous safety improvements.

Voters approved Ocean Beach School District’s proposed capital levy by 59 percent through an April 23 special election.

“We are grateful for the support and encouragement that our community gives to our students, and we intend to be good stewards of the trust and support that the community gives to our children and schools,” said Amy Huntley, the district’s incoming superintendent. Huntley works as OBSD’s director of student learning and principal of the Ocean Beach Alternative School.

Voter turnout settled at 38.72 percent, as of April 30. Another ballot count is scheduled for April 29.

“Of six capital levy measures in the state, ours passed in the top three, which is a wonderful statement for our community,” said OBSD Superintendent Scott Fenter. “We made the decision to do this because our community came to us expressing the need to act now, and we can be proud of how we all have stepped up to make it happen.”

The levy will make major additions to OBSD buildings:

  • Each school will be made to have only one entry.
  • Schools will also receive new fencing, an alarm system and cameras.
  • A portable will be installed at Ocean Park Elementary.
  • The district will also partner with Long Beach Police Department to hire a resource officer, who will primarily work in the schools with students.

The levy replaces the district’s current expiring levy. The new levy will last for five years, costing a total of $2.5 million. During the levy’s first year, residents will pay $0.05 per $1,000 of assessed value. During the following four years, the levy will cost $0.29 and $0.30 for two years each, per $1,000 of assessed value. The new levy costs voters less than the expiring one.

At its April 24 meeting, OBSD board member Don Zuern commended Fenter and fellow board members Michelle Binion and Tiffany Turner for their work toward getting the levy approved.

The OBSD board decided to move forward with the levy at a February 2019 meeting.

“For that to be approved in that short of a timeframe is a great accomplishment,” Zuern said. “Now, our schools will be safer.”

The approval of the capital levy will be one of the many changes coming to OBSD in coming months. A renovation of Ilwaco High School’s science facilities is scheduled to start this summer, as well as a total-district reconfiguration of staff and grade levels.

Levy work will start this summer after OBSD has secured funding, Fenter said. Since it’s late in the season for contractor bidding, most of the levy improvements will be made in summer 2020.

“Some of this [work] will be able to be done when students are at school so it could begin in late summer and into fall but this is too early to tell,” Fenter said.

OBSD will try to complete its fencing renovations and installation of the single-point entry system this summer, Fenter said. Project timelines will generally rely on the contractors and schools.

In comparison to levy campaigns held at other district’s Fenter worked for, the OBSD community was the most supportive and welcoming.

“I was so appreciative of the 16 different groups that welcomed me in to share the levy facts,” Fenter said. “Sometimes a place can be unaware of how unique it is, and I will say this peninsula is a model help and support for any region of the state. Each group I met with has a major role in making life better for others, and that is something to be proud of.”

Alyssa Evans is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or aevans@chinookobserver.com

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