Northwest NEWS

January 17, 2000


Arts should be fully integrated into the curriculum

   I believe that public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. I support public school education in order to prepare our children to take an active educated role as citizens in our country. I include in education the extracurricular programs that provide opportunity for learning and experiences outside of the classroom.

   In offering my candidacy for the School Board, I pledged to work for the children, to see that the instruction and programs were the best the district could offer while maintaining a fiscally responsible and conservative budget. I have done that to the best of my ability. At times, my position has differed from other board members. This reflects my honest opinion as how best to achieve our common goal: good schools for all the kids.

   I think that honest differences of opinion expressed openly are the strengths of democracy. Open public debates, which allow all parties to express their opinions, form the basis on which elected officials must make decisions. What voters say at the ballot box is part of the debate.

   In the two years that I have been on the Board, several levies have been proposed. The proponents of the levies have spoken eloquently to the need for the programs and facilities to be provided by these levies.

   I believe there are real needs. You, the voters have not been convinced sufficiently to approve them. Comments from community members fall largely to two issues--the levy was for too much (a tax issue), or this is a rural district that doesn't need the facilities proposed (a sense of community).

   The Board has heard the message. The levies on the Feb. 29th ballot reflect many hours of discussion and debate. The levies provide only basic program needs for the students. I support these levies. Call me, 333-4928, if you would like to discuss them in more detail.

   The M&O levy renews a levy that expires at the end of this year. While state law allows asking for approval of a 4-year levy, the Board is continuing the traditional 2-year levy. I support this, as it allows the voters to review the District performance frequently. The M&O levy is needed to support basic programs and it is needed to continue to offer the benefits of extracurricular programs. But the largest portion of this levy is needed just to keep the schools open and staffed. About 20% of the budget is funded through the M&O. Without these funds children will not receive quality instruction. There would be no extracurricular activities.

   The Communication and Technology levy is to update facilities. The communications systems in the buildings are old or non-existent. Providing phones to the classrooms improves communication between the community and the staff, and amongst the staff to more effectively use time in the classroom for instruction. The levy will provide needed training and support so that the computer labs will effectively be used in the instructional programs. The levy provides for a quality lab in each school. A lab that will be shared as a learning resource much like the libraries and music rooms. The levy is also for two years, allowing opportunity to evaluate future needs while reducing the amount by $3 million from the previously rejected levy.

   The Performing Arts levy provides for completing the theater at the high school. For six years, the students have held candy sales, car washes, etc., to provide needed lights, sound, and curtains. While they have made some progress, and many wonderful classes and programs have been accomplished, the performing arts are too important to leave to candy sales. This levy, with additional contributions from the community, will double the usable space on the stage and provide better sound and lighting. It will allow larger orchestras, dance, and choir performances, as well as the opportunity for cinematography classes and movies. The full potential of the students is best attained when the arts are fully integrated in the curriculum.

   It's time to end the candy sales. Please show your support by voting "yes."

Steve Hallstrom, Carnation