SSD to seek local option funding


Last updated 3/8/2023 at Noon

The Sisters School District (SSD) is set to seek a fifth renewal of the local option tax levy. The local option renewal has been ongoing for 24 years, providing essential funding for the unique programs Sisters schools are able offer. Superintendent Curt Scholl will file for the local option levy to be on the ballot for the May election. The local option levy renewal is the same amount of 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The school board on March 1 approved the process to move forward with filing for local option renewal in mid-March. The local option allows for Sisters to grow and maintain unique programs such as IEE (Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition), the luthier guitar-building program, and Americana Project. Sisters schools allow a place for students to have a well-rounded education, and relate to their community through the special programs the local option helps fund.

The local option helps support approximately 14 teaching positions.

The District emphasizes that citizens’ taxes will not go up — this is a renewal of the current levy. Local option also funds 10 percent of SSD’s annual operating budget.

According to Scholl, “Even with the 2021 bond and the 2023 local option, Sisters residents pay lower taxes for schools than any other district in Central Oregon.”

In other business, the School Board approved a settlement offer from Juul e-cigarette company. The SSD voted to be a part of a nationwide lawsuit against the e-cigarette company over the risk of vaping to young students. The board authorized Scholl to act on its behalf in working through the process. The litigation and settlement amount are confidential.

Scholl provided an update on enrollment, with numbers being up with 1,160 students as of January.

Scholl highlighted that Sisters schools are still working in partnership with Heart of Oregon to help provide educational services for students in poverty.

According to the SSD website: “Heart of Oregon Corps provides vocational training and continuing education to opportunity youth ages 16-24. Through the WORK, EARN, LEARN model of our five programs, we strive to create pathways out of poverty for youth and encourage their self-sufficiency.”

The SSD has a strong working relationship with Heart of Oregon, helping students get back on an educational pathway after they have strayed from it, coming from tough family or poverty situations.

The District is looking at suggested and required improvements to the new Sisters Elementary School building, but are still on track for a fall of 2024 opening. Scholl is still working with University of Oregon city planning students on the potential use of the old elementary school property.

The Board also approved next year’s school calendar with a two-week spring break and a Tuesday-after-Labor-Day start of classes for every grade except kindergarten.


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