Letters to the Editor

Options program needs visionary leadership | Letters | Jan. 27

Here is a telling item on the agenda for next week’s school board meeting: an update on the Bainbridge Island School District’s options program, followed by the words “no action.”

We have a progressively-minded population here, one with families clamoring for more individualized learning, and great teachers eager to instill a lifelong love of learning.

But we also have a school district administration that is reluctant to make the decisions necessary to move us ahead.

Once again this year, parents will be invited to apply to a program for which there is no board commitment in place for action that comes close to meeting demand.

Last year almost 100 students applied for this program, but only a small fraction got in.

Using the district’s own figures, I calculate that the marginal cost of instruction is 13 percent lower than in traditional programs.

Long-time school watcher Daniel Smith, using data the district supplied to the state, calculates that surplus seat capacity equals that of two schools. Clearly cost and space are not the issue.

We need more visionary leadership at the district level, leadership that will make decisions to meet the needs of every child and prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century.

In Puget Sound, we have great examples of innovative schools, like Aviation High in Tukwila, and Bellevue’s International School, which Newsweek ranked as No. 12 on its list of America’s best high schools.

We could be on that list as well.

Rod Stevens, Bainbridge Island

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