Undoubtedly the biggest issue facing Douglas County voters in the May 21 election is the Roseburg School District’s five-year, $6 million bond levy.
Roseburg is the most populous school district in our county, and its high school is among the largest in the state.
Approximately half of our readers reside in the district and must decide how they will mark their ballots, if they haven’t done so already.
We urge a yes vote for the children who attend Roseburg schools, for the community and for our future.
We acknowledge there are serious issues with the Public Employees Retirement System taking away needed funds from the classroom. That’s a complex problem that must be corrected fairly at the state level.
It’s not a reason, however, to defeat the levy and put our students at a disadvantage.
We know that if the levy doesn’t pass, Rose Elementary School will close and nearly 350 elementary students will have to attend a different school next year. That alone is not a reason to vote “yes.” Those children will switch schools at least twice more before they graduate. They are resilient and will survive, if not thrive.
Voters should approve the levy:
• To allow for the purchase of new curriculum and textbooks. When there aren’t enough textbooks to go around, children who need extra time to learn and study can’t take them home. And when curriculum is outdated, students aren’t receiving the high-quality education they deserve.
• To provide updated computers and other technology for students. Effectively using computers is a must in today’s world, whether students are entering college or the work force upon graduation. We must give them the tools to succeed after leaving high school. District officials are also concerned that the existing computers are becoming too old to support the software necessary for students to take state-mandated tests required for graduation.
• To protect the investment taxpayers have already put into the school buildings. The district has clearly laid out a five-year plan of priorities for replacing and repairing roofs, floors, heating systems, a septic system and the like. Proper maintenance is the key to extending the life of the existing buildings, so this is a wise and necessary use of funds.
• To show students that this community believes in the value of education. We believe education can help families move out of poverty, live healthier lives and become inspired to give back to the community that supported them along the way.
The levy is a reasonable amount. Taxpayers would pay an estimated 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That amounts to about $5 per month for the average homeowner. And the request comes after the district has cut $10 million from its budget over the past five years.
Voters across the state are being asked to approve more expensive levies. It would be good to report on May 22 that Roseburg students were on the winning side of the results.