COMMENTARY: Vashon Schools Foundation is working to close the gap

Since learning, last month, of the Vashon Island School District’s projected budget shortfall for the 2022-2023 school year, the Vashon Schools Foundation has stepped up to help mitigate the potential deficit impact.

In recent years, the Foundation has focused its fundraising, and giving, on the support of vital programming that fosters the socio-emotional health of our students, equity, the arts, and sciences. They prioritize programs with the broadest reach, benefiting the most students.

Programs such as Journeymen, Sisterhood Circles, and Sources of Strength all work with students to develop positive self-esteem, healthy relationships, and compassion for others. A partnership with Vashon Youth & Family Services provides counseling support. Vashon Artists in the Schools partners district teachers with professional artists in the community to create meaningful creative experiences in the classroom. The Vashon Wilderness Program provides guided outdoor school experiences with the goal of developing resiliency and a sense of well-being in students. And the Citizen Science partnership, with the Vashon Nature Center, engages youth in real-world scientific studies and encourages them to collaborate in preserving Vashon’s ecosystem.

For the 2022-2023 school year, the Foundation has already raised funds to pay for two-thirds of the cost of these programs. Now, with the projected budget shortfall, the school district has asked the Foundation to fully cover the cost of these programs.

The Foundation has committed to doing so by tapping into its modest reserves. This commitment from the Schools Foundation allows the district to shift costs that would have gone to these programs, against projected cuts.

In addition to paying for these enhanced programs, the School District has asked the Foundation to fully fund two much-loved programs: Outdoor School for fifth-graders, and Exploratory Week for eighth-graders.

The Foundation does not have the reserves to cover these costs and is currently seeking community assistance to raise $35,000 to pay for them and, once again, to free up money in the district’s general fund for reallocation against potential cuts.

To date, the community has contributed $5,450 toward the $35,000 goal. The Foundation hopes to raise the needed funds by June 9, the date they will need to communicate a final contribution figure toward the deficit to district leadership, prior to the district finalizing its own 2022-23 budget in July.

Vashon has the opportunity to continue to provide our students with a unique educational experience and that starts with our community.

Donations can be made by mailing a check to Vashon Schools Foundation, P.O. Box 481, Vashon, WA 98070, or visiting our donation page at

The Vashon Schools Foundation is a grassroots volunteer organization that raises funds from the community to pay for the cost of crucial student services and educational programs that are not included in the State’s prototype school model.

Working closely with the District, the Foundation board evaluates the impact, equity, and reach of programming and helps fund those that are most in alignment with their mission. For more information about the Foundation, visit its website at

Mary Margaret Briggs is treasurer of the Vashon Schools Foundation. Visit