Opinion

‘Our educational values will not waver’ | Forecasts for 2010

By WALT WEGENER

Friday Harbor High School is one of seven schools in all the state of Washington nominated for the 2010 Blue Ribbon School Award in the “High Performing” category. I predict we will earn that much-deserved award and be a gold medal school even in this time of such fiscal and legal turmoil.

The Foods Program is working very well and with continued involvement of local sources and the regular support of our families, 2010 will see a sustained high quality nutrition program in all the schools on the island.

Because of the ongoing and gracious support of the community, co-curricular events and opportunities will continue for students on the island. Together, we have challenges to address regarding facilities, but there are many positive developments in our future.

The WASL will become the WCAP (Washington Computer Assessment Program) and, as they have in the past, our students will proudly lead the state in performance on this literacy test demanded by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Our community is a powerful and extraordinarily generous support system for our schools and I am optimistic that we can pass our M&O levy renewal request that will be on the ballot for the Feb. 9 special election. This renewal maintenance and operations levy (M&O levy) election happens every four years, when we go to the community for approval to tax locally to continue operational support.

This tax levy is typical all over the state, supplementing the state funding formula to provide sufficient funds to keep schools operating. M&O levy funds pay the electricity and water, provide for support staff and meet typical maintenance requirements in the schools. The state provides a base and local communities must make up the difference to assure adequate schools.

2010 will be filled with interesting and powerful forces. The Legislature, courts and community all face significant and influential issues that could have a significant fiscal impact on our schools by January 2011.

Last year, lawmakers passed but did not fund House Bill 2261. This law requires significant positive changes in kindergarten, grades 1, 2 and 3, career planning, high school graduation, and support in staffing and fiscal elements of the school system. Without adequate funding, these positive changes are unlikely to form. Until the state steps up and does its paramount duty as defined in the Constitution and funds schools with “ample provision for the education” of students, in 2010 we will have to remain united and focused in our insistence for adequate funding.

My confidence in San Juan Island School District, 2010, is a direct result of the extraordinary instructional team at San Juan Island public schools as well as the amazing families and community on our island.

My predictions for 2010 are that this community’s deeply rooted educational values will not waver, and together we will achieve success for our children and preserve hope for our future.

— Walt Wegener is superintendent of the San Juan Island School District.

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