By Peter Woodbrook
For Vashon Island School District
For many students in the Vashon Island School District (VISD), their education is supplemented by in-school programs provided by Journeymen, Sisterhood, the Vashon Nature Center, Vashon Center for the Arts, Vashon Youth and Family Services (VYFS), and many other local organizations.
These programs, and many others, are partially funded by the Vashon Schools Foundation (VSF), which is now conducting its annual fundraising campaign, with the goal of raising $220,000 for the 2021-2022 school year.
“Our classrooms and schools are communities nesting within the broader community of Vashon Island. Schools, teachers, students, and their families are not islands on this island. Their wellbeing impacts all of us,” reports Superintendent Slade McSheehy. “The Vashon Schools Foundation is a critical resource for our school community that provides the support and experiences our island has come to expect from VISD.”
These programs took on extra importance last year, as students navigated the difficulties of a Zoom-based world. Last year, 11 Vashon Youth and Family Services (VYFS) behavioral Health counselors provided 1,730 counseling hours to 92 students, ranging from kindergarteners to seniors. Of those hours, more than $40,000 in services were uncompensated and paid for by donors to VSF.
VSF’s role in the island’s educational community is necessary because of how the state of Washington funds its schools. In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the McCleary case that the government had failed to fully fund basic education. An attempt at a legislative fix still resulted in budget shortfalls for school districts around the state, requiring those districts to rely on the dollars of local levies and organizations similar to VSF.
“Public education is a participatory event — being able to contribute to, and help shape our children’s education is so important,” says VSF Board President Amy Broomhall. “It is no secret that our government does not properly fund public schools. VSF recognizes this critical shortfall and works to bridge this gap. We are proud to support programs that nurture our students and prepare them to navigate this changing world.”
The VSF board is given a wish list of initiatives the school district would like to implement and helps fund those programs, such as citizen science labs with the Vashon Nature Center, Artists in the Schools with the Vashon Center for the Arts, StudentLink, Racial Equity, and many others. Many of the programs funded by VSF are focused on social and emotional learning and developing the whole child.
The foundation does not make initiatives about what they would like to fund — the requests and directives always come from the school district leadership.
“Every day, students and families in the Vashon Island School District benefit from the programs funded by the foundation,” says Broomhall. “Without this support, school would look very different. We believe in an exceptional public education for everyone, and together as a community, we are investing in our children’s future.”
The funding VSF provides for the island’s public schools comes from community support. Each year, VSF raises more than $200,000, and that generosity comes from local businesses, school families, and neighbors.
To learn more about the Vashon Schools Foundation, and donate, visit www.vashonschoolsfoundation.org.
Peter Woodbrook is a communications specialist for Vashon Island School District.