Thank you for helping students during this funding crisis

I am so grateful to live in a place where our kids’ health and well-being is a priority for our community.

At the Vashon Schools Foundation (VSF), we are grateful and excited to announce that you, our incredible community, raised $77,000 (and still counting!) for our schools during GiveBIG — vastly exceeding our goal of $40,000.

As promised, we have committed every dollar raised to saving kid-facing essential staff positions that were slated to be cut for the 2024-25 school year.

In response to an outpouring of advocacy for these positions, the school board and district administration have allocated these funds to help restore the middle school counselor and district nurse from the proposed cuts to current levels.

As a parent and a community member, I am so grateful to live in a place where our kids’ health and well-being is a priority for our community.

Islanders were clear that nursing and counseling are important to have in our schools, and our kids benefit from this support.

Tehya Fiala, a VHS student and track athlete, told me that “[Nurse] Brandi [Greenidge] has a bubbly and happy attitude but also can be stern. She challenges us. I’m pretty sure she’s also a mother. In the middle of the season, I went to a track meet off island and I got food poisoning. It took my mom two hours to get there, and she stayed with me the entire time caring for me like I was her own child.”

Parent Anna Waldman emphasized how important counseling is at the middle school: “Mallory [Shull] is everything you’d want in a school counselor. She is friendly, thoughtful and responsive. She helped our son adjust to a big change, showing individual care for his situation and excellent communication with us as his parents.”

Thank you, Vashon, for showing up for our schools, teachers and staff, and, most importantly, for our kids.

Funding essentials like staff positions is not new to the Vashon Schools Foundation. Though I am new to this board, I understand that the foundation started with this mission.

Several years ago, with school funding for essentials more stable, the foundation shifted to prioritize enrichment programs, supporting social emotional programming, Artists in Schools, Spanish language counseling, the school garden, and more.

Recently, that equation has changed. Deeply inadequate state funding and regional trends of decreasing school enrollment mean that our schools will likely continue to face shortfalls.

This year, proposed budget cuts included not only nursing and counseling, but library, high school electives, reading and math support and others. Even the incredible GiveBIG support and hard work from the board and district could not save everything.

In response to these trends, Vashon Schools Foundation has expanded our funding priorities to once again include funding essential staff positions, as well as enrichment programs. Together these priorities give our children the amazing education that we expect and believe in here on Vashon.

As the Vashon Schools Foundation negotiates our next steps, in partnership with the school board, the school district and our community, we are guided by our mission of funding the gap between state dollars and the actual cost of quality education in our schools.

We are so grateful to know we can count on your support.

Kennedy Leavens is a VSF board member.