by Eric Webb
Orcas Island School District Superintendent
It is with enormous pride and gratitude in our Orcas Island Community that I write to you today.
Although K-12 educational funding is a great challenge and source of frustration year after year, we at Orcas Island School District are (by leaps and bounds) much more fortunate than most. This is because we have the continued support of our community through the generous gifts of individuals and organizations as well as community support of our bonds and levies. We have so much to be thankful for!
Year after year, OISD lobbies and requests additional state funding from the State Legislature to properly serve our students’ needs. As a public school district, we routinely receive small adjustments and tweaks as a result of each Legislative Session, which usually comes with additional mandates and strings attached. It’s not that we do not appreciate the help we receive from the state, it’s just that it simply isn’t enough to adequately support public school education.
This last session’s outcome resulted in a SPED funding increase of 2%, for which we are grateful. Despite this outcome, the K-12 Education funding system for the state remains outdated and inadequate for small school districts in particular, especially for a small island district.
In the post-McCleary Solution years, we continue to find ourselves reliant upon donations and local funding to offer the activities and opportunities our students so deserve. That’s where our amazing Orcas Island organizations and community come in: filling that gap in funding, if you will.
Orcas Island Education Foundation, Orcas Island Booster Club and the Music Advocacy Group are examples of such organizations, although far from a complete list of OISD supporters. These three organizations continue to have a tremendous impact on the educational opportunities and programs that we are able to continue in the absence of adequate state funding.
Orcas Island Education Foundation (https://oief.org/) has recently donated an amazing $82,000 to support the following activities and programs for our students and families: Futures Lounge, Elementary Outdoor Education, Family Support Liaison, HOBY Scholarships, Senior Tours, and Elementary Dance Class. They also fund the program A*OK Arts, providing Art studies and opportunities to students in grades K-8 on an annual basis.
The Orcas Island Booster Club (https://www.orcasboosters.org/) made a generous donation of $26,700 to fund a number of needs: a new track protector, new sound system in the High School Gym, track and field equipment, and a mural for the half-wall behind the High School.
The Music Advocacy Group (https://oimag.org/) annually donates $8,500 to fund a number of additional music needs and opportunities for our students in the Music Program. An additional enhancement just recently funded by MAG included software for interactive sheet music for the students to use as they practice.
I can’t begin to express my pride and gratitude for this community and the volunteers of the organizations that support our school district. So much hard work and effort take place behind the scenes to make all of these wonderful gifts a reality.