Big thinking

The decision of the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors to back away from what is unfortunately termed the “Really Big Idea Committee” is a wise one. Superintendent Gary Plano will now oversee the committee. This move will help free up the School Board to focus on its primary mission­, which is to supervise and direct the work of the superintendent to carry out the goals of the board. But, you say, what was the RBIC? And why should we care? Good question.

From our perspective, the impetus for the RBIC, made up of Island educators, parents and career professionals, appears to be two-fold.

The first is to prepare for the future. The second is about marketing.

The RBIC is considering what skills and knowledge young Islanders will need to compete and flourish in our global economy and increasingly international society.

The second reason is to attract additional donors and funds to the Mercer Island Schools Foundation. The foundation, in particular, feels that donors, both old and new, need to be shown that 21st century students need more resources than ever to achieve their goals. Yet both Islander families and their employers have never disappointed. The foundation has been a virtual money-making machine. Why the effort now? Certainly the school district will adapt and shift gears the way it always has. Right?

It is a good idea to involve those who are outside academia and teaching to talk about what is needed. Bringing in skilled and experienced entrepreneurs, leaders and thinkers, as well as tracking the success of recent graduates, are excellent ways to find out what the district needs to do in the coming years. And charitable giving is becoming a limited resource. With as many needs as there are in the community, any fund-raiser knows that it is important to refresh the message to donors. The actions of the School Foundation are commendable, noteworthy and not unusual. They are right to look ahead and right to find whatever source of funds they can.

Let’s ensure that the work of the committee moves with all deliberate speed. The time to prepare for the future is now.

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