Orcas School Board seeks more dialog, committee members as school bond work continues

Last Sunday, 27 community members got together in three homes to talk about the school bond.

Those “coffees” were just one step in the school board’s effort to seek input about the bond since the election in February. Conversations have taken place in casual one-on-one meetings on the street, at school, at the market, at workplaces, and in cafes. We have also held a potluck for the community and have actively sought input at every school board meeting. All of these discussions have been lively and candid. They have allowed for more in-depth question and answers with school board members and staff. The purpose of all this discourse is to help us come to consensus about a bond amount for an August election. Throughout most of these discussions, people have agreed that the school board and administration did their job in figuring out an appropriate program for the bond. It was a complicated four-year process that helped provide the basis for the building program. While there is general agreement that the program is appropriate, there is also a growing opinion that the bond amount is too high.

To that end, the time has come to make modifications to the original plan. We cannot lower the bond amount and keep the same educational specifications. Doing so would compromise the whole project. Instead, we must look to make cuts in those programming specifications to reduce the overall cost of the bond. As this process continues toward a successful bond passage in August, we look forward to more dialogues like the ones that took place Sunday. We have also asked for the formation of an advisory committee similar to the Budget Advisory Committee to work directly on creating the best, most economical, and maintenance efficient project for our district. Anyone interested in serving on this committee should contact the district office. Finally, we want to thank you all for your continued support of our island’s public schools.

The Orcas Island School Board