09/13/2011: "SJI Schools Update"
By Rick Thompson
On August 31, the first week of the 2011-12 school year went off without a hitch. I have had the pleasure of seeing parents walk their kindergartener to school for their very first day, watched as seventh graders begin a new middle school experience, and found myself in the high school one morning for break, enjoying the students’ enthusiasm in being back with friends.
This smooth start is a result of the hard work and preparation by our dedicated staff, and the ongoing support of many district partners who choose to spend their time and resources to ensure our students receive the best education possible.
It is impossible to mention, in this writing, all the people who provide support for the district, but I know our staff surely appreciates the many ways the community demonstrates care. From scholarships to providing food at events, from giving dictionaries to elementary students, to funding the arts, over and over again our students enjoy a level of support not seen in other school districts. It is the profound support of this generous community that makes San Juan island a special place to live, learn and work.
On July 27 the Board of Directors adopted the annual budget. Noting the difficult economy and reduced state revenue, the board directed additional operational cutbacks to ensure adequate end fund reserves will be available for the future. It is worth noting that the state budget cuts (which you are surely aware of by now) have had significant impacts on how we educate our children. The community should be commended for passing the Island Rec Levy to support co-curricular activities. More creative solutions will be required in the months ahead, unless additional state funding is provided. State funding accounts for the majority of district revenue.
On February 14, 2012, the district will be asking voters to replace the 2008 capital and technology levy which pays for school facility and technology needs. A citizen’s committee will form this fall to prioritize capital improvements and inform the community about the costs to keep our facilities safe, healthy, and productive learning environments. I want to note here that significant investment will need to be made now, due to the age of our facilities, to avoid extremely expensive alternatives in the future. More information will follow.
It looks to be an exciting and productive school year ahead. Please let me know how our schools are doing. I can be reached at the San Juan Island School District office at (360) 378-4133, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Rick Thompson is the Superintendent of Schools for the San Juan Island School District)