Opinion

Islanders will be repaid in time if bond passes

By KEN ZAGLIN

For The Beachcomber

I write this with considerable trepidation. I own a business here on Vashon and have always avoided taking a public stand on political issues in an effort to avoid misrepresenting the ideas or wishes of my company’s associates. But when the school bond issue approached, I felt I must take a stand since there is so much at stake.

I am very familiar with the Vashon Island School District; I spent two years and hundreds of hours on the first committee that worked on the 20-year plan for our district. During that time I discovered many parts of our district that are in excellent shape — and many areas desperate for attention.

My business is on the frontline of the current economic crisis, and I understand the financial burden so many of us face. I speak daily with homeowners, contractors, agents and buyers who are struggling to manage the ongoing changes. These times are far from easy for many of our Island residents.

Within any community plan and this bond in particular, it is easy to find elements that we will not all agree upon. I’ve heard many voices saying that they have always supported our Island schools — but now is not the time to take this on. For those who want a complete fix, this plan comes woefully short; for those who feel that buildings don’t matter, just the quality of teachers, this plan is extravagant. I’ve heard many say that 90 percent of the plan is great, but not the sports facilities. For others, it’s the sports facilities that complete their child’s education, guiding them toward fitness and social interaction, and away from the drug use that is already too prevalent on Vashon.

It’s easy to find reasons to say no. I argue that our most solemn obligation is to say a resounding “yes.” Yes — because much of the high school campus is beyond dysfunctional and has more than served its useful life. Yes — because the staff has endured inadequate facilities and needs the support of the community in delivering the quality of education to which our Island children are entitled.

Jury duty can be burdensome and often inconvenient, but it is my duty as a citizen. The soldiers who serve our country put their lives in the balance as a measure of what it is to be a citizen. I ask each of you to measure the contribution you are willing to give as a member of this community, to our Island’s children.

Public education is a major part of the foundation and fabric of Vashon. My own children will have largely completed their Island education before the projects in this bond are completed. But my own children’s benefit is not the point — it’s the value I place on my community that compels me to ask for your support of this bond. It will be very easy to find reasons not to vote yes — but taken as a whole, the major reason to vote “yes” is the value we place on all of our Island children.

The state of Washington does not fully fund education. We cannot blame our school district staff or our school board for this fact. Our schools depend on local levies and bonds in order to function. Like so many decisions we all face, this one may not be easy, but I ask each of you to support the current bond just as those before us supported previous bonds, and enable all of our Vashon children to gain the kind of education we can be proud of. If you are still unsure, please take the time to see for yourself. Tour Vashon High School and then make an informed choice. The support we place in our school district will be generously returned to us in our property values and in our community.

— Ken Zaglin is the owner of John L. Scott Real Estate Vashon and has been an Island resident for nearly 30 years.

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