Opinion

Avoid fear and vote rationally

school levy Next week is the election for Northshore schools, on February 6th. It will determine the next three years of my children's education. I do not want them to have less than the quality they have now.
   After 20-odd years of supporting the public education of what has grown to 19,000 children in our neighborhoods, there appears to be a small cadre of people who do not want these children educated in a public system. They seem to have very strong and narrow views of education. They sound very afraid.
   I did the research when we were moving to this area. What did I look for? Rising test scores was one. My children had regularly taken them in our old school district, where they were used statewide. I knew what my children's past performance on them was, so I could compare apples to apples. Perfect? No. Satisfactory? Very. But there's more.
   I saw a general budget figure that was impressive. Northshore spent about $5,800/student this year, not the highest in the state, nor the lowest. I would not want to be in either of those.
   Northshore's administrative budget is the lowest of any system its size in the state, 10.8% of the total. Certain school activities are better accomplished at a central point in a large, efficient district.
   Imagine the dollars wasted if every school had to do its own data processing, order its own supplies and maintain its own buses. 73% of our district's general budget goes directly to teachers and teaching activities. That's fantastic.
   There are other categories that I consider very important. I don't relish the thought of my children studying by candlelight next to a wood stove. Opponents of school support regularly decry spending on items such as utilities, maintenance, cleaning, food service, and buses. They try to add these necessary items to "big bad administration." They sound very afraid.
   I also looked for a school district that welcomed my productive participation. I could volunteer, do programs, assist on tutoring, work with children on their writing skills. I am welcome. The addition of local volunteers offers my children a wider spectrum of experience with the real world.
   My children don't live in a narrow, homogenized world. I resist all efforts to narrow the resources of the public schools which educate the majority of our next generation. If someone has a problem with these schools, getting involved in the numerous citizens committees, finding out the facts, like I did, is the way to go. Pulling the funding away from our children's schools does not improve their education!
   Please avoid fear and vote rationally. Support our children's schools until 1999 at exactly the dollars they have now. Then, volunteer and find out how wonderful our school children really are.

Jane Gunwaldsen, Woodinville