LWVSJ Observer Corps* Notes summary of San Juan Island School Board, September 2023 meeting
In public comment art teacher Anderson said in a recent national art competition a Friday Harbor student had a top ranked portfolio but did not get a prize because the school has had too many recent winners. He featured the student’s artwork in a presentation for the organization.
The Student Body representative reported that students are preparing for Homecoming on October 13th and getting settled back into school mode. Those attending a leadership class raised $700 to donate to Lahaina High School in Hawaii after the fire.
Superintendent Wood is making the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program a priority given the great need, with Head Start spots under pressure. He hopes to move the start date to the second semester this school year from Fall 2024. The state will fund the program. State revenue projections are running above expectations so there may be extra funding which could be applied to fully funding special education mandates. He recommended the Board consider a proposal from the Apollo group to seek grant funding for capital projects.
The Board reviewed the 2022-2023 School Improvement Plan and the State Assessment Report Card. In line with state-wide results, although student performance improved, it continued to lag performance from before the pandemic. A committee will review and propose changes to the School Wellness Policy starting September 28.
The Board did a first look at the draft proposal for the February 2024 Capital and Technology Levy which includes key repairs needed for safety reasons. The draft is for a requested $6.3 million, a little below the inflation-adjusted amount of the last levy. If passed the levy would increase the amount paid for an $800k assessed property by $6 from $224 to $230. Some Board members advocated requesting a higher amount, while others felt they should be conservative.
The district had an audit triggered by federal funding over $750k and came through well with one small ding for lack of documentation confirming contractor status. The 2022-2023 school year budget will break even. Small deficits are projected for the next couple of years, but enrollment is up by 12 over the August projection, partly because issues in the Lopez school district have seen some students transfer to Friday Harbor.
A Board member reported the Washington Association of School Districts approved a change of by-laws that keeps all votes at one vote per School district as opposed to votes weighted by enrollment, a practice that has long benefitted large school districts. The Board agreed to a special meeting on October 11 to hear the Apollo proposal and further discuss the levy.
*The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.