Opinion

MI Schools Foundation supports excellence in education

Did you know that some of the social studies textbooks used by the Mercer Island public schools are 20 years old? Published before the reunification of Germany and the collapse of the Soviet Union, they are so out-of-date that replacements can no longer be obtained. On top of this, state funding for new curriculum adoption is severely limited.

Although we live in an affluent community, our school district is not affluent. Education is primarily the duty of the state in Washington, but our state funding languishes in 42nd place in per-pupil spending. Moreover, local funding is tightly constrained. For example, the capital levy that just passed (thank you, voters!) can only be used for capital maintenance and technology. The money cannot be used for textbooks and other general curriculum materials. Similarly, other local levy funds are capped by state law.

I hope that facts like these will shake us out of our tendency to become complacent about education on Mercer Island. Sometimes we think, “Aren’t our test scores among the best in the state?” What we forget is that we have some of the best prepared children in the state, who come to school ready to learn; of course, they do well on a state test of basic skills. We need to support our teachers as they strive for excellence in preparing our students for life in the global economy.

Please join us on Tuesday, March 25, for the Mercer Island Schools Foundation’s Business and Community Breakfast. Over 500 business and community leaders will be getting up early for the fifth annual breakfast to raise the funds to provide our students and teachers with the resources they need to succeed. Last year, the Foundation raised $850,000 with more than $200,000 from this event. We hope to do even better this year with your support.

In truth, the School District is doing a delicate balancing act with very limited funds. We all want an excellent 21st century education for our children and that costs money. The Schools Foundation provides much of the district’s funds for curriculum materials and teacher development. The more money we can provide, the more flexibility the district has in attracting and retaining the best teachers and in keeping class sizes low.

Won’t you please join us and our important business sponsors as we come together to support our Mercer Island public schools? To attend the breakfast on March 25 or to donate, please contact us at 275-2550 or donations@mercerislandschoolsfoundation.com.

The Foundation breakfast is set for 7 a.m. Tuesday, March 25 at Mercer Island High School. Ellie Gittleman is a member of the Mercer Island Schools foundation board.

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