I read with interest the Reporter’s May 22, 2013, article-interview with Adair Dingle and it brought back some thoughts of why a lot of us Islanders defeated the school bond so badly.
Some of Ms. Dingle’s comments illustrate Islanders’ frustration with the current School Board’s inability to communicate to the folks on Mercer Island what they might get if they had spent $196 million on all new schools. Here are some of my thoughts your article revived.
1. In the first bond, there were no building plans of any kind submitted to the voters, leaving Islanders to assume they must write a blank check for all new schools.
2. Ms. Dingle mentioned the original bond included “the kind of environment that is needed now for learning. And that impetus is now lost.” She lamented that “optimal design” of the first bond issue is now lost. Islanders never understood why their great teachers could not teach the latest 21st century educational criteria in the existing school structures. They never understood what the “optimal design was.” Especially without plans of any kind! They could not understand what it was about the existing school brick and mortar that prevented our fine teachers from teaching and using the latest teaching methods.
3. Islanders still do not understand why facilities cannot be built in existing structures and now in the new upcoming schools structures that will include “science labs with technology and tools that incorporate the STEM initiative.” Dingle fears “Bellevue, Issaquah and even Seattle schools with their state-of-the-art material sciences program will be better than Mercer Island’s.” Yet, none of the School Board has ever explained to Islanders why we have to tear down all our schools to build such facilities.
4. She fears that the “focus on school facilities has turned the attention away from having excellent teachers.” This fear is totally unfounded.
The direction that the School Board has taken so far as they study what the new school bond should include is very encouraging. I pass along these observations with the firm hope that the School Board can come up with a final plan that is economically feasible and will provide great new and remodeled schools that will be the home for the very best teaching environment. When the final bond is submitted to Islanders, the School Board will need better communicators to help all of us understand the new proposal. They have proved that they do not have good communicators now and to that end I am hoping some new and refreshing School Board members will be elected soon.