Public school needs are interrelated

Levies, bonds, trusts, taxes.

With no fewer than four requests for school funds announced over the last few weeks, islanders might be pardoned for considering zipping pockets that are – in some instances, at least – shallower than they were a few years back.

Or could we blame our friends and neighbors if, besieged by the increasing costs of food, transportation, home repairs and other essential bills, they decided to pick one from column A, and leave alternatives B, C and D for another year?

Maybe not, but before those pockets are quite closed, we’d be remiss not to point out that our public schools face precisely those same rising costs. And, we would add that the four measures address different needs – all pressing, and some so interdependent that to fund one and not the other might well reduce the impact of new dollars overall.

In short: The capital facilities bond to be placed before voters in February 2005 would fix up our school buildings; the technology levy would make sure there are computers (and other systems) in those buildings; the privately organized Bainbridge Public Schools Trust updates the curricula taught on those new computers in the newly improved buildings; and the League of Education Voters’ tax initiative – a one-penny sales hike that voters statewide are likely to decide on the November 2004 ballot – would hire teachers, so students in smaller classes in those newly improved buildings, working on those newly acquired computers, could learn from that updated curricula.

If the blunt fact alone that Bainbridge is near the bottom of the funding heap – 271 out of 296 districts statewide in per-pupil support – doesn’t suggest that our schools need all the help we can give, in as many creative ways as we can devise, then let’s put it another way:

Asking educators to teach our students, and asking those students to learn under current conditions, is like asking the swim team to compete wearing ankle weights. The fact that the team is winning doesn’t mean that the weights should stay on, because sooner or later, the swimmers will tire and sink.

And think how much faster they might go without the weights.

Family Night

How’s this for a tough assignment:

Kick back, take it easy. Put your feet up and procrastinate. Forget meetings, rehearsals and homework, and just relax with family.

An invitation to hang out with relatives for the first-ever Bainbridge Family Night on March 31 is extended to the island by Just Know, the coalition formed last fall to address youth issues on Bainbridge.

After Just Know’s debut forum last fall, a gathering of more than 300 who assembled to learn about youth substance abuse and other risky behavior, the Family Night event might seem more of a non-event – but then again, that’s the point. Moving the emphasis from accomplishment to relationship for even one evening redefines home as more than a way-station for kids and parents on the run, and spending “quality time” together as more than a notion to which we pay lip service.

Promotional materials for Bainbridge Family Night will be distributed by Just Know in the coming weeks, but we’ll RSVP “yes” to the invitation today.

Plan to do something relaxing and fun on March 31 – just do it as a family.

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