Opinion

Providing distorted information is not honest or ethical

Northshore Schools I recently read a letter about the Northshore School District in [another newspaper], and the inaccuracies in the letter really bothered me. I also understand that some people are attempting to discredit the Feb. 6 school election by distributing false information about the school district.
   I hope that if voters have questions about any information they hear, read, or receive in the mail, they will call the school district to get the facts. These people have the right to disagree with the school district, but providing distorted or incorrect information on purpose is not honest or ethical.
   Here are the so-called "facts" that I read in one letter, followed by the correct information:
   1) "Northshore population of children is not growing." On the contrary, the enrollment continues to grow one to two percent each year. This year, the enrollment grew by 330 students, and Northshore has 19,000. I know one to two percent doesn't sound like much, but 330 students is half an elementary school. In two years, that means the equivalent of a whole grade school, and they have to be housed. If you want to see growth, I suggest you drive along 228th SW from Meridian Avenue to Locust Way, and along 196th SE east of Thrasher's Corner, where new development is expanding rapidly.
   2) "Northshore district ought to reduce administrators." Northshore already has the lowest percentage, 10.85%, of administration (principals and central office) among all school districts in this state with 2,000 or more students. The statewide average for administrative cost for those districts is 13.6% of the budget, and some spend as much as 15%.
   3) "Northshore ought to put construction contracts out for lower bids." Northshore always has done that. In fact, by state law, school districts must take the lowest bid in awarding any contract unless the lowest bidder doesn't meet project specifications.
   4) "Northshore does not include all chidren's test scores in its annual totals so that the district can make its test results look better." All districts exclude severely disabled children and ESL students (English as a Second Language) whose English is so limited they can't be tested yet. However, Northshore included 96% of its 4th-grade students last year, the highest among 19 major districts including Mercer Island and Lake Washington. The next highest was Shoreline at 94%; Yakima was lowest at 75%.
   As good citizens and informed voters, we should know the facts about our school district. If you have questions, I urge you to call Northshore at 489-6000 or the District Communications Office at 489-6399.

Sharron McAllister, Bothell