To the Editor:
Elections in August tend to draw little attention and even less participation. This must not be the case in this summer’s primary for final candidates for the public school district’s Board of Directors.
As San Juan’s only pediatrician, I have cared for a disproportionate number of the Island’s children, particularly those which special needs, and have seen since 2004 the impact of the many changes that have occurred in the Distinct on a full cohort of kids from kindergarten through high school graduation. Public education is in a state of flux with challenges both the federal and state levels over which we have at best limited control. However, there are things we can influence and consequently see the 2017 local election as a pivotal moment for a number of reasons:
1.) The positions to be contested were held by parents who were the key figures in guiding the District for the past decade and sustained development needs the same sorts of people.
2.) The remaining Board is too heavily tilted towards ex educators and administrators.
3.) Administration has gone through wrenching cycles of non-management to excessive micromanagement which demands increased oversight by new Directors that have a vested interest in the future direction and stability of the District.
4.) Special Education needs are not being met with a “program” clearly in disarray and stronger informed voices are needed to advocate for those children’s needs, to keep them in the District, and to avoid the increasing risk of litigation.
5.) The economic realties of life on our Island continue to drive towards an aging demographic with little room left for the young and those of modest means. This in turn can only accelerate the decline in school enrollment.
Heather Christensen is the right person to succeed Brent Snow. She is a skilled Physician Assistant who as my colleague who shares with me the medical care of many of the District’s students.With a daughter at the Elementary School and a son at the Middle School she has a long term personal interest in our schools. She is an informed and thoughtful professional and parent who brings with her insight and commitment. Please join me in supporting her candidacy for Position 1 of the San Juan Island School District Board of Directors.
Mark Fishaut MD FAAP
July 13, 2017