The failure of the Peninsula School District’s April bond was heartbreaking and confusing to many supporters, including me. For nearly two months I’ve wrestled with the fact that while the “yes” votes outnumbered the “no” votes by nearly 4,000 (out of 23,000), that it wasn’t enough to reach the state’s supermajority threshold. I’m frustrated that the supermajority rule allows a vocal minority to outweigh the majority’s support of the bond. I’m angry that others in my community don’t seemingly value the schools the way I do. And I’m wondering what’s next and how we move forward as a school district in order to best meet the needs of all children.
Conversations with other parents have indicated they too are focused on what’s next. Some are looking toward the next best move for their families and others are recommitting to the work of ensuring PSD remains a vibrant place for all kids to learn. Some are doing both. I was raised by public school teachers and public schools have my heart. I taught for nine years before my children were born, including three in this district. I understand the challenges that face public schools but I also honor and value their place in a thriving community.
Some PSD parents are choosing to send their children out of district next year and others have already enrolled in private schools. That is obviously their choice in deciding what is best for their families. What’s best for my family is to stay and push forward. I look at my two sons and see all of their amazing potential and can vividly picture their big, bright futures. When I look at your children, I see the exact same thing. My boys don’t go to Evergreen Elementary School or Key Peninsula Middle School, but I want those students to have the same opportunities as my children. I want to know that the same opportunities are afforded to all kids, whether they attend Vaughn, Henderson Bay, Kopachuck or any other PSD school.
For those of us who voted “yes” and are frustrated with trying to figure out what’s next, I encourage you to press on. Let’s continue to speak out, push back and stand up for all kids no matter where they go to school or what circumstances they come from. There are thousands of children on both peninsulas for whom changing districts or enrolling in private schools isn’t an option. When the 2018-19 school year begins, each of our 18 schools will be filled with children eager to learn. We owe them our best.
And for those of you who voted “no” I challenge you to look closely at the schools in your area and find ways that you can support the work they are doing. The bond was roughly 240 votes short of passing and the anti campaign only garnered 41 percent of the total votes. I’d encourage everyone to consider that although it didn’t pass, community support for the bond far outweighed opposition to it. A strong school system attracts new residents and businesses to our area, bolsters property values and is an essential part of a well-educated population. What’s good for the schools is good for all of us, no matter how you chose to vote in April.
Meredith Browand is a mother and an activist who lives in Purdy.
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