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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Bend-La Pine Education Levy is Voted Down, Leaving Schools Reeling

The local option levy would have remedied budget deficits and restored over 100 positions across the district
Via Unsplash.
Via Unsplash.

The Bend-La Pine Education Levy, which would have minimized the effect of budget cuts across the district, did not receive a majority vote after results from the primary election were released on May 22. Nearly 59 percent of voters rejected the local option, leaving many educators and community members disheartened.

The levy would have increased property taxes by one dollar for every $1,000 of assessed property value. Over the next two years, it was estimated to raise $21 million dollars. Funds from the levy would have filled the 3.5 percent budget gap that the district faces for the coming school year. Luckily, Summit was already prepared to deal with the deficit in the event—now reality—that the levy didn’t succeed.

“We had already created a staffing plan that included that 3.5 percent cut,” said Principal Michael McDonald. “So, when the levy didn’t pass, we didn’t have to make further reductions. Some teachers went from full-time to part-time. Some teachers went from full time to a full-year leave and they won’t be here next year.”

In addition, Summit will offer fewer courses than in previous years to accommodate for funding cuts.

“We have reduced a few of our elective programs. We don’t offer as many sections of those classes as we can.” McDonald said.  One of the courses that McDonald mentioned was the Creative Design, or pre-engineering, program. Where there were once multiple classes in the Creative Design sequence, next year will only offer one option to students: Creative Design 1.

Another course that won’t be returning for the 2024-25 school year is Financial Algebra. The popular math class was taught by Jake Oelrich, who splits his time between being a math teacher and Summit’s Activities Director. Although Summit will be hiring another Activities Director to fill Oelrich’s shoes next year, budget restraints mean that reinstating Financial Algebra isn’t possible.

This isn’t the first time a school-related levy hasn’t passed in Bend; two previous attempts were also voted down in past years. However, they continue to be an important option that could restore district-wide funding cuts. 

“A levy would be really important [in the future] if we felt like we could get one passed,” McDonald said. “Next year, if nothing changes at the state level, we will be down another 7.5 percent, so double what we were this year.”

Unless the Bend-La Pine District student enrollment were to skyrocket before the 2025-26 school year begins, it’s likely that next spring Summit will face the same funding issues once again but on a far more serious level.

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Lina McDonald
Lina McDonald, Opinions Editor

When she isn’t busy catching grammar errors and writing pieces for the Pinnacle, Opinions Editor Lina McDonald can almost certainly be found drinking copious amounts of coffee and wandering around Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe. Otherwise, she spends her free volunteering at Camp Tamarack, rewatching Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time or frosting cakes in her kitchen—all thanks to her trusty stand mixer. Lina always has an open ear for debating important issues–such as which Taylor Swift song is the best for any situation–and promises to hear out any controversial claims before disagreeing. Feel free to contact her with any editing queries or catchy story ideas!

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