FEB. 13 Editorial

Pay it forward

Last spring, as the community worked to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep programs and staffing at Orcas Island School District, despite a budget shortfall of some $350,000, the disappointing forecast, “But we’ll be in the same position next year,” was often heard. And given the formula of state funding dependent on enrollment, which was declining on Orcas, the dire prediction made sense.

But Orcas Islanders are not only generous, they are smart and committed, and this week, the Orcas Island Education Foundation, in partnership with the Orcas Island Comunity Foundation, introduced the Education Initiative to address the long-term supplemental financing that the school district will need, at least until it has built up its reserve fund, and the Oras Island Education Foundation has grown its endowment fund to provide sustained funding for the school, as the school district board works to increase enrollment.

The community leaders in Orcas Island’s Community Foundation, Education Foundation, and School District demonstrate real philanthropy and community spirit. The success of the Education Initiative will mean that teachers, parents and administration won’t have to anguish over cuts in programs and staffing. It means that teachers and students can concentrate on learning.

The Education Initiative is also laudable in that it makes use of the experience, resources and expertise of two existing organizations, working in service of their mission statements. Rather than creating yet another committee or task force to learn about the problems and make new contacts, “the powers that be” are tackling the problem and wrestling it to the ground.

These organizations are no paper-shuffling bureaucracy that gets bogged down in politicking and finger-pointing. These organizations, and the individuals involved, are true movers and shakers, and also constant tenders of the longstanding institutions that benefit the entire community.

Likewise, the recently concluded “Partners with Youth” campaign, to send Orcas Island kids to Camp Orkila’s programs, rewards two upcoming generations in its fundrasing campaign – both the children who will be able to go to the camp, and the Partners with Youth campaigners, many of them young parents, who are learning the challenges and benefits of active fund-raising, giving of their time and efforts, so that others may become informed and contribute financially,

Again, this campaign’s success is due in great part to building on past experience. The Partners With Youth Campaign Chairs, Dean and Audrey Stupke, first served on the campaign last year, and this year supervised the fundraising effort, personally raising over $8,000 and inspiring the other campaigners to a grand total of over $40,000.

Thanks to their efforts, and those of all the campaigners, over 200 island kids will have the experience of summer daycamp in the woods and waters of Camp Orkila and other YMCA programs. These kids, like many of their parents, express their appreciation by “paying it forward” so that a new generation of youngsters can go to camp.

The Education Initiative and Partners with Youth provide continuity and tradition, the cornerstones of a healthy community.

We owe these folks our thanks and cooperation as they strive to share the wealth of growing on Orcas Island.

Don’t throw your vote away

One of the confusing situations as the parties’ caucus meetings were held last week could undermine the School District’s Maintenance and Operations Levy. For while the mail-in primary ballot’s presidential preference is nonbinding for Democratic party voters, and half the Republican Party delegates will be chosen on the basis of the caucus vote, the school’s levy is printed on the backside of the ballot, and it is the only place where islanders can vote for or against the levy.

And to add to the uncertainty, we learned that the reason the levy issue wasn’t in the Voters Pamphlet was because no one came forward with an opinion opposing the levy, and contrasting opinions are required for an issue to be printed in the pamphlet. Talk about bending over backward to be fair.

We urge all voters, caucus-goers and/or primary balloters alike, to be sure to approve the Maintenance and Operations Levy on the backside of the ballot. And mail it in.