Wakefield will be a strong advocate for schools | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

School board elections often get little attention, despite the powerful impact that school board members can make.

As a parent of a high-school junior in the Bainbridge Island School district I’m deeply concerned by the performance of our current school board and its impact on the quality of education of island students. What are we to make of the 2017 financial roller coaster that included a fiscal emergency declared in March, just three weeks after receiving $45 million levy funding, the hasty plans to dismantle the Options Programs, the cuts to the teaching staff in the spring and then the superintendent’s recent announcement that the district budget “remains in good fiscal health”? And five high school principals in five years?

How can we keep thinking of our island’s schools as “good” when 20 percent of high and middle school students have “seriously considered suicide in the past year,” and school principals “raising alarm about drug and alcohol abuse by students at school”? These are serious problems that need vision to be addressed, an aligned strategy, and most of all, a high level of engagement that I have unfortunately not been able to observe during public school board meetings I attended.

So, I was thrilled to hear that an outstanding individual, Christina Wakefield, is running for the Bainbridge Island School Board in the upcoming election.

I have talked to Christina and was impressed by her inquisitiveness, thoughtfulness and pragmaticism. I was especially delighted to hear her thoughts on the importance of individualized learning, her support for teachers to implement new educational methods as well as ideas on productive discourse and transparency.

During a recent call with Christina I got a taste of how she can help improve our schools by an infusion with strategic thinking as well as actionable processes to engage the public and drive rational and open decision making.

Christina has demonstrated experience in formulating strategic plans and taking action that result from such plans. She stands for differentiated instruction, prioritizing small class sizes, supports expanding social-emotional learning and can help bring modern teaching to our schools by providing more options for students.

Moreover, her professional background in fostering social and behavior change has great potential to make the Bainbridge Island School District stronger.

Christina has succeeded in solving complex challenges around the world, for instance in hands-on supporting U.S. government agencies to improve health, education and development abroad. Therefore, I am convinced that Christina will be a strong asset for our school community and help us tackle budgetary, facilities and educational challenges at school board level.

We owe it to our students as well as the district’s taxpayers to taking action and making our schools safe again, supporting students of all abilities and making financially sustainable and transparent decisions.

PETER NOLLERT

Bainbridge Island

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