I am writing in response to remarks made in a recent edition of the local paper. Comments about our low achieving schools left me wondering if the writers had been in our schools lately. They sounded more like political positioning rather than an actual understanding of the dynamic educational environment in which the children in our district learn.
I can tell you from 13 years of first-hand knowledge, volunteering nearly 1,000 hours inside primary, middle and high schools, this district is thriving. We have a lot to feel good about. One recent example is the ranking of our high schools by U.S. News and World Report: WLHS was ranked No. 2 and WHS was ranked No. 4 in the state. These rankings do not occur in the absence of a high functioning school district. I see how my high school children (10th and 12th grade) are benefiting from a strenuous and diverse academic environment. I have seen our school district grow exceptional programs over the past 13 years, while our neighbors contract. The ever-increasing achievement of our high schools is the product of the valuable learning that takes place in our schools starting at kindergarten. If our primary and middle schools weren't properly preparing our students for high school, our success would be limited. Each school and teacher should feel good about this achievement.
I have seen that just because schools are full of students it doesn't mean quality of education is being diminished. When Boones Ferry was physically crowded for seven years before Lowrie Primary was built, the educational capacity was never compromised. In fact, having more students allowed for additional classrooms to be opened up — thereby reducing overall class sizes. Yes, we had portables, but only 20 kids in the lower-grade classes led by amazing teachers. Our school board and our district have never compromised on class size. I have a 6th grader at a very crowded school. I will admit to mixed feelings that our district did not dictate the attendance area for the new middle school.
However, the highly transparent process which involved parents from the beginning of the school year, extended the period of time for public input, and provided multiple opportunities for input, is the kind of inclusive and collaborative process that I value. I feel voters understand the effects of transfer students on the budget. The more funding the district has to work with the more programming they can offer. The fact that our district is so desirable to transfer students supports my exertion of excellence. I firmly believe our administration and board are making sound financial decisions for the benefit of all.
As a taxpayer and a citizen I am very proud that we are able to provide an exceptional education to as many children in the state as we can. We are a "feel good" district because we have so much to celebrate. I encourage the writers to look past the growing pains that come from living in a destination school district and get behind the teachers, administrators and
board that has contributed to its success.
Angie Gibson is a resident of Wilsonville