The mission of the Peninsula School District is to “partner with our community to provide a safe environment where every student acquires knowledge, skills and character to become a productive citizen.”
With the unanimous school board approval of the resolution for Proposition 1, we are asking each of you to partner with us as we seek to further our mission. We want our students to learn in schools that are safe and that have a high-quality teacher in every classroom. We want to equip our students with the knowledge and skills to compete in the 21st century technology-driven economy.
Not only will the passage of the $50 million levy replace Artondale Elementary and build a new elementary school that will allow the district to address overcrowding throughout our elementary schools, but it will provide the infrastructure to house innovative K-5 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. Think robotics, hands-on learning in state-of-the-art science labs, and a renewed focus on math, which has always been a challenge to this district.
We want to cultivate a greater sense of community in the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas and know that a strong, equitable public education system is essential.
Investments in technology infrastructure and student devices will allow students at all our schools to augment their classroom learning with 21st century technology. Our students on the Key Peninsula need technology as much as every other student, but they do not necessarily have wealthy PTAs able to raise funds to buy tablet computers by the “cart.”
Without capital funds, very few new computers for students have been purchased since the 2003 bond. Can you imagine using a 10-year-old computer?
As volunteers who work full-time in a variety of careers, we, too, know that we are living in a new economic reality, both in our own households and with regard to funding for public education.
This is why a capital levy makes so much sense. We believe that saving taxpayers $24 million in interest is worth it. Families don’t want to pay unnecessary interest payments, nor do taxpayers.
We also believe in doing more with less, which is why we commit to building elementary schools for about half of what other school districts have proposed. We have listened to stakeholders during the past months and years, and we wanted to find common ground with concerned citizens. That is why we chose to have a smaller package at $50 million that will keep our tax rates the lowest in Pierce County, and it’s why we chose to include only critical needs. This also allows for much easier accountability and transparency for voters. You can see the five items on our project list, and we expect that you will hold us accountable to accomplishing those items, just like the district did with the 2003 capital bond.
We believe in keeping promises, not just to taxpayers, but to the 9,000 students and families who entrust us with their most precious assets every day — their children, our students.
Our teachers, staff members and administrators are focused on the mission to provide an outstanding educational experience to each student in the district, and we want to support them by providing educational space that is safe, free from overcrowding, and equipped with robust technology and the innovation of a STEM program to prepare our students to be our future leaders, not just in this community, but in whatever town and whatever field they pursue.
Join us in this important mission of providing an unparalleled education to the 9,000 students who attend school in the Peninsula School District and vote “yes” for Proposition 1.
Harlan Gallinger is a Peninsula School District board member.