Local business support our schools, so let's support them | Commentary

Over the past three weeks, our Vashon Public Schools Foundation has hosted breakfast meetings for Island business leaders and professionals to ask them to contribute to our $500,000 sustaining campaign.

As always, foundation board members and I received a warm and enthusiastic reception. We are elated by the generosity of Vashon’s business leaders in support of our schools and are especially pleased that they strongly embrace the concept that excellent schools foster a vibrant community and a healthy business climate.

Over the past two years, businesses — in addition to paying taxes — have contributed substantially to our fundraising efforts. Schools are funded mostly by statewide property taxes and locally approved levies. Records in the King County Assessor’s office show that there are 291 commercial parcels on Vashon. In 2011 these businesses paid $2,077,559 in property tax, nearly $1 million of which is allocated to schools. Businesses know this, yet they are willing to do more.

Most of us on Vashon belong to nonprofit groups that regularly ask the very same businesses for support in the way of sponsorships, donations of food and merchandise, window space for posters or sidewalk space for booths. On Vashon Island we have more than 100 nonprofit organizations, each with a compelling need for support. Our business owners know the value of good community relationships and try their best to fulfill as many requests as they can. In addition, some Island businesses offer a 1 percent return donation for receipts turned in monthly.

I’m sure many Islanders share my appreciation for the generosity of our business community and have, like me, extended heartfelt “thank yous” for their support. However, I think we need to do much more than say thanks. We need to demonstrate our gratitude by renewing our commitment to buy locally and use the Island’s professional services, remembering that some of the resources generated by our purchases then come back into the community as donations.

Vashon Island’s businesses believe that it is good business to have great schools. It works both ways. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. We can do our part by shopping locally and encouraging our neighbors and friends to do the same.


— Michael Soltman is the superintendent of the Vashon Island School District.


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