01/31/2012: "LETTER ON SJI SCHOOL TAX LEVY"
(Note:Date above left is when the first letter was posted below on the subject)
To the Editor:
I am writing in support of the upcoming ballot measure to renew and increase the Capital and Technology Levy for San Juan Island schools. The reasons why the parents and families in our community should support this measure are obvious, and well described by others in letters and mailings.
Less obvious is why island residents who do not have children, or children in our school system, should support this measure. I am among this group of people, but I believe very strongly that education and schools are the bedrock upon which we build strong communities. This measure will provide the funds to ensure that we maintain our investment in the schools, beyond their daily operation. It will also ensure that our schools can provide children with access to the technologies that will make them successful in tomorrow's society and job market.
We focus a lot of energy upon what happens in the formal curriculum in schools, of course. But many of the learning opportunities that occur outside the curriculum also provide crucial skills and inspiration that can lead to good careers and jobs down the road. In my own case, I had the great fortune to attend a junior high school which was able, in the late 70's, to buy a single personal computer for the students and faculty to explore. This investment in infrastructure -- difficult to justify in 1979 -- paid handsome dividends for the small group of children and faculty that learned its secrets.
Today, we expect our schools to provide much greater access to technology for our students, of course. But somewhere in our schools, there are the seeds of new experiences and learning opportunities that will be important in the decades to come. We can't plan such things, but we can ensure that our schools have good infrastructure and modern technology. Added to a solid core curriculum and employment of great educators, the result is a great educational system.
As I mentioned, I do not have children of my own. But a previous generation of taxpayers were willing to fund the schools that helped me succeed and give me such formative experiences, and I feel lucky to be able to "pay that forward" by supporting our schools today.
And I urge everyone else to do the same.
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
I’m voting ‘Yes’ to support the Capital and Technology Levy of the SJ Is School District this February. After reviewing the website list of technology and building needs, especially at the Elementary School, it’s clear a majority of the funds will go for normal maintenance: a new roof, better fire suppression and alarm systems, new ventilation and heating systems, bathroom repairs, new exterior windows, etc. After 25 years of intensive use, the Elementary School is like any other commercial building, it needs replacement of its critical parts. If we don’t support the protection of these assets with proper maintenance, then our children will suffer from both inadequate classrooms and from compromised teachers as money is moved from general operations to cover necessary or emergency repairs.
I’ve had the pleasure of twice working as a volunteer in the Elementary School lately. What a pleasure it is to enjoy the competency and energy of the other volunteers, mostly parents, and the paid staff. It takes only a little direct experience to realize these parents are committed unpaid workers because the teachers and staff are committed professionals. It’s reciprocal. Involved parents are the best indicator of a healthy school -- this District has hundreds of parents giving their time.
A good basic education (K-12) with inspired teachers, appropriate space and the right technology is critical if we want our children and society to prosper in the 21st Century. Technology needs upgrades just like the buildings do to remain useful. No business can prosper in a changing market without modern tools and a good place to use them - our school district is no different.
Please vote to help our children continue to be good students - vote ‘Yes’ for the capital and technology levy.
To the Editor:
This fall I had the opportunity to be a member of the facilities review committee which vetted projects proposed for the February 14, 2012, School District Capital and Technology Levy.
The committee met for 8 weeks culminating with a presentation and recommendation to the school board. We toured sites and reviewed documents �" all of which are posted on the district’s website www.sjisd.wednet.edu .
The group was diverse being made up of parents, educators, general contractors, civil engineers, network administrators, building material experts, social services providers, district administrators, coaches and interested community members.
Each committee member took the responsibility of understanding the needs of the district very personally. The committee as a whole carefully considered the trade-offs of reinvesting and maintaining the district’s assets, against what the recommended projects would mean in terms of a taxable amount to this community.
Every meeting included a discussion of how the dollar value of the projects would translate to real tax dollars, and could our community afford this amount given the challenging economic conditions?
The renewal of this levy does ask for more dollars than in previous years. In studying all the sites it became apparent the district has been under-funded in past cycles to address the issues at the elementary school and all other sites.
Just like our homes, we need to continue to do maintenance to ensure they stay safe and livable. If we ignore the necessary repairs required for the elementary school, we will certainly be faced with higher taxes in the form of a bond to completely rebuild this facility in the not so distant future.
If voters approve this levy, the necessary repairs to our facilities will be made now to ensure their continued use by the students, teachers and all the other community groups who utilize these assets.
I urge you to vote “YES” for the proposed Capital and Technology Levy by February 14th to preserve our existing assets and keep our future taxes low.
Chair, SJI Capital Facilities & Technology Review Committee