I was back at Peninsula High School the other night, watching the Seahawks play basketball, and it wasn’t just their dominating performance that had me feeling especially Peninsula Proud.
It was seeing old principals who were showing up on a weeknight, as they always do, to be there for another sporting event. It was the old friends I saw and laughed with as I learned of their success since high school. It was seeing those same janitors dutifully cleaning the stands and the gym late into the night. It was being back in those hallways knowing that I was heading back to law school because of the people in that building.
We have an amazing school district, from Peninsula to Gig Harbor, from Vaughn to Goodman. We have amazing teachers, principals, and staff who do not see the benefit of overtime for the abundance of tireless energy they pour into our schools from way too early in the morning to late at night. We have a lot to be proud of, we have a lot to maintain, and we have a lot of people to say yes to.
Which means we have also heard it all before. So this time, here’s what we aren’t talking about.
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We aren’t talking about increasing taxes. We aren’t talking about giving raises. We aren’t necessarily even talking about patching the holes in the ceiling of the Social Studies portable at Peninsula so that teachers can collect garbage in their cans instead of water. But with this levy vote, maybe we’re talking about repairing the torn turf of Roy Anderson Field, that amazing place our gathers at for Fish Bowl.
Hopefully, we could begin talking a lot more about the recurring needs of schools like Artondale, Vaughn, Key Peninsula, and Gig Harbor. With this vote, we are just talking about maintaining what we have. Maintaining what technology we have and need, maintaining the condition of our buildings, and maintaining the salaries of our teachers.
Teachers like my Calculus teacher who told me six years ago to “fight for every point,” and whose words of encouragement and perseverance I repeated to myself while I took my first law school exams. We’re talking about keeping people like him in the Peninsula School District.
Communities that invest in their schools, really are investing in themselves. The students, teachers, staff, and the quality of the space they occupy is reflected in our neighborhoods, in how much stuff leaves Costco, and how often people can dine out on our waterfront. The students and staff of the Peninsula School District tend to stay here. They are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends. Our facilities and the quality of our schools encourage the growth of our community or they discourage it.
We have seen tremendous growth here over the years. If we want to maintain this positive growth in our great community, we have a choice to make.
Until the state Legislature provides the leadership and makes the hard choices they are responsible for making; until they give us the clarity and certainty we need to move forward and eliminate these painful votes, our choice now is simple. Our task is easy. Our choice is to maintain what we have or not. Our choice is to hold the line or watch our staff cross district lines and go elsewhere.
Our choice is to invest in our kids or divest in our community.