Help close gap in school funding | Letter

This time of year is special in our community because we rejoice in spending time with one another at holiday events, band concerts and family gatherings.

I often find myself thinking about the things I value most: quality time with family and friends, education and the caring people I work with every day. I am so thankful for the dedicated and inspiring teachers and staff in our schools, eager students and engaged parents.

We have been looking forward to the New Year. A group of dedicated individuals is working to research best options for the location and program for the important transition year of sixth grade. We are also working with an architect in designing the Turnbull Gym locker room. Our technology department is in the process of implementing our tech levy plan. Just as importantly, our school board is working on legislative priorities which will help guide our legislators in meeting our needs. The legislature is under court order to substantially increase educational funding to meet its constitutional obligation to fully support public schools.

The easiest way to understand the issue is to look at how school districts are spending their local levy money. By law, these local, voter-approved funds are reserved exclusively to provide education beyond the basics which a particular community expects for their children. Our community has made it clear that we should provide a more robust arts program and better integration of STEM in all grades. But, we cannot meet these expectations as our local levy funds are paying for the basic program. It is this gap in state funding that the court has ordered the legislature to address. We plan to support our legislators in meeting our specific needs:

  1. Fully fund actual and realistic staffing — both certificated and classified.
  2. Address the coming state-mandated rollbacks on local levies.
  3. Without a solution, the board of directors must cut $555,075 from the budget in 2018.
  4. Fund special education based on the actual services our actual students need.

Your efforts to contact our legislators with these three needs will be very helpful to our common cause.

Danna Diaz

San Juan Island School District Superintendent