Why care about schools? They are the lifeblood of communities | Letter

These are challenging times for public education. Schools are under intense scrutiny for what they spend, how they teach, who they teach, and what they teach. All Districts face staffing shortages and enrollment declines. Rural schools, including ours, are under even more financial stress, being shortchanged by inequitable state funding formulas. Tough times sadly have resulted in failed levies elsewhere.

Look, everyone knows that our island is a uniquely high-cost place with significant taxation to match as well as a skewed age demographic.

So why care if one has no children? Because schools, especially in rural America, are the very lifeblood of communities. The San Juan Island School District is the embodiment of that fact. Small towns without good schools turn inward, wither, and die, if not actually, emotionally. Our District is one of the cornerstones of what makes life worth living here.

In our two decades here, there have been many ups and downs in our schools including serious financial threats, managerial turbulence, and the pandemic. Over those 20 years, we have seen the evolution of a superb management team, teachers, and support staff who have collectively navigated through challenges and delivered excellence for our kids, preparing them for adulthood, and contributing to our community.

Others will certainly detail needs and costs that the 2024 Levy entails. First-class public education is essential to democracy. We believe that the requests are both prudent and necessary, and encourage all to vote YES on Feb. 9.

Mark and Sharon Fishaut,

San Juan Island