Opinion

PTSA auction should be a celebration for all

It’s hard to feel optimistic about the funding of our public schools these days.

Consider:

• Things looked bad back in December, when Governor Gregoire announced her proposed state budget and warned taxpayers that education would take a huge hit;

• Then the Senate Democrats announced their proposed budget, proposing more than $1 billion in cuts;

• Whatever happens, meeting a $9 billion shortfall in our state budget will hit schools – and hit them hard.

Among some of the proposals now being kicked around in Olympia are suspending voter-approved Initiative 732 (which provided teachers with cost of living increase and improved class sizes), eliminating salary increases, reducing thousands of slots in colleges and much more.

Even before we hit this recession, we were not adequately funding public education in this state. Our Washington Constitution holds the state responsible for the “ample provision” of basic education, yet the state has fallen short for years. In fact, the state has been sued for not fully funding public education.

So it was with all of this as background that our local PTSA created the auction a few years ago. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have worked each year to put on this event, and our proceeds have grown each year. Last year, we grossed more than $90,000 for our public schools, doing our part to address this funding shortfall.

Then, we hit the recession.

There were plenty of folks who asked us why we decided to have an auction this year. The economy is slow. Times are scary. People aren’t spending. Then, our community voted down the proposed school bond. All of those signs could have told us it was not the time to ask people to help public schools.

But then we discovered something: Other people started approaching us, asking when the auction would be held. Businesses asked how they could get involved. Sponsors came forward and helped us raise all of the money we need to cover every cent of the night’s expenses. Artists started putting together projects.

It would be easy to take the year off and say we didn’t need this auction. It would be easy to not go to the event next weekend, to not join in the effort to raise money for Vashon schools.

But what would be hard is to do nothing. We can’t stop state lawmakers from cutting education. But we can try to mitigate the damage.

One of the most important things about a community is the quality of its public schools. Our goal as parents who are active in this community is to join hundreds of you at this important event and raise that paddle. We’ll be there because we’re grateful for our teachers — and glad to have a chance to make a difference for them and our kids.

We will have items from the low-priced to the high, from vacations to family essentials. We want this to be a time for everyone to gather as a community and celebrate our kids. And while we do that, let’s have an auction.

— Lauri Hennessey is the publicity chair for the PTSA auction. Denise Katz is the president of the Vashon PTSA.

Auction details

The 2009 Vashon PTSA Auction is 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at O — Open Space for Arts and Community — located at 18870 103rd Ave. S.W. Tickets — $35 apiece — are available at the Vashon Bookshop, Books by the Way and The Little House. Off-island parents or guests can also get tickets by e-mailing Zoe Barlow at zmbarlow@gmail.com.  For more information on the auction, go to www.vashonptsa.org.

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