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People make good decisions
There are times in my life when I feel like I am riding on a cork
bobbing in an ocean. It all starts with a walk on the beach and the next thing
I know I am halfway across the Pacific Ocean with no land in sight. I had
no idea when I decided to go on that walk that it would end up where it did. I
try to remember to enjoy the ride, but that was when I was still on the beach.
The cork I am on now is called school levies. This is the point
where most people start to shake their fist and swear at me. I volunteered to chair
the Riverview Schools Committee. The RSC is the political action
committee that is in charge of convincing the general public that taxes are a good
thing when they go to fund schools. It is not an easy job in an I-695 climate.
Right now, I feel like I am convincing my kids to eat brussels sprouts. Even
if they admit they may be good for them, they still are not ready to eat them.
Then there is the Seattle Times. They just had to make my job
harder. Unlike the Valley Record, the Times continually avoids writing about
issues important to the Valley, like surface water management and the
124th Street bridge replacement. But Sunday the 9th (of January), they
weighed in on Riverview schools. Big time. The article paints a picture of a valley
divided into old and new residents. Insinuating that newbies are willing
to pay for schools and old-timers are not. I emphatically do not agree. I
don't think the guy had a clue as to what is going on in the Valley, or in the
schools for that matter.
This Valley supports its schools. The voters in the Riverview
School District have passed every Maintenance and Operations levy since
I graduated high school in the dark ages of 1978. We have passed
construction levies, remodel and school upgrades, and we have passed the levy to
buy new buses. Have we passed every levy on the ballot? No, but I believe
that was due more to what was in the levy than anything else. We may not
have passed our last technology levy, but neither did Mercer Island School
District. Are we to assume that Mercer Island is a community divided?
What the illustrious writer missed is the fact that our schools are paid
for almost exclusively by homeowners. We do not have Bellevue Square or
a giant Microsoft campus to pay property taxes in this district. With no
industry, the average Joe and Joan homeowner assume the burden. This
is a community made up of young families and retirees. We all have to
make tough choices on what we can afford.
The writer also perpetuated the myth that the hills above Duvall
are filled with Microsoft millionaires. Pretty funny. The hills above
Duvall are filled with young families that could not afford to buy a home
in Issaquah or Woodinville. Working families with jobs at Boeing and
Genie Lifts. Oh, yes, there some who work at Microsoft, but they are no
Bill Gates. They are working stiffs like the rest of us, just trying to pay off
orthodontia bills. The neighborhoods are changing and so are our schools.
What has changed in the Riverview schools is the
administration and the school board. In my humble opinion the last
superintendent stunk. He did his best to be vague with everyone he dealt with. He
had no faith in the voters in this district. It showed in the way he talked to
the public. It was an attitude that said, if I don't tell you anything, you cannot
use it against me. He is gone and I say good riddance.
Contrast that attitude with our new superintendent, Dick Geiger.
Mr. Geiger's approach is to tell it like it is and, let the public decide.
Hallelujah, praise the Lord!
Another huge change in the district is the school board. We now
have a board that does not rubber stamp administrative proposals. They ask
questions, hard questions that do not win popularity contests. Individuals
and administrators who bring proposals to the Board better be prepared to
be grilled like a steak, without getting their skivvies in a bunch. That
means if you want to run a technology levy, then you better be prepared to
justify every dime spent. You have to be able to prove that your proposal is
essential to our kids' education, not the latest fad.
When I got the opportunity to write this column, I was told I
could write about whatever I wanted to (bet they are regretting that one!) and,
because I did not get invited to the Record's Christmas party, and I
am still pouting, I am going to bore all of my readers with levy information
for the next few weeks.
I personally believe that people make good decisions with good
information. I want everyone to understand what they are voting for or against.
So I am walking down that beach and stepping onto that cork and
dragging you with me.
Kate Russell lives between
Carnation and Duvall. You can reach her by e-mail