Cedar program still going strong despite cuts | Sound Off

By Patty Bruland

I feel that your July 10 article entitled “Coupeville School District chops away at Cedar program” by Katie McVicker has left the public with some damaging and incorrect impressions. The Cedar program is not punching more holes in the district’s ship nor are we dead in the water.

From what I understand of Cedar’s funding, Cedar is funded only through the per-capita student enrollment fees and if we were allowed to keep those fees and use them just for the Cedar program using our own Cedar instructors, we would be able to function quite nicely with no loss of our Cedar instructors and no shortfall. The budget losses have to do with what the district counts on us generating in order to meet its budget.

Cedar is not dead or dying. We may be a pruned relocated cedar tree but our roots are strong and we are putting out new growth. We have new young families joining us with fresh energy. We have put together an impressive program including art and science, music, history, geography and writing. We have highly qualified volunteers. Additionally, we have not lost sight of our own Cedar instructors. Many of us will continue to have them teach our children even if it cannot be under the official auspices of the Cedar Program.

Bringing back our highly valued, much loved instructors to their full positions is one of our chief goals. I have been perpetually amazed at the misconceptions regarding the Cedar program that exist in the community. It seems that the curtains of preconceived ideas and misinformation need to be drawn back in order for an accurate image of Cedar to be revealed. Firsthand knowledge is a good thing.

I suppose that the most upsetting thing about the article was the emphasis and weight given to the negative. Sensationalism is great for selling papers and a time-honored journalistic technique but it perpetuates panic and gives more fuel to parental and community despair. Equal weight and press was not given to those of us who know what is being offered next year and who are enthusiastic about the fall schedule. The positives were hardly touched on.

Yes there are cutbacks and we are all feeling anxious but there are positives too. I think it is amazing and inspiring that a group of parent volunteers are willing to step forward and devote a huge amount of time and energy to put together the courses that will be offered through Cedar. There are always going to be families who are upset and feel that a program no longer meets their needs and they choose to move on. I understand their pain and anger and it saddens me that they have chosen to move on as we will miss them. However, the same thing happens and is happening in regular public school too. Does that mean that we are all dead in the water with no hope?

The other thing that really bothered me was the comment that Oak Harbor was not going to experience any of the same difficulties. This is not accurate; everyone is facing difficulties. Little comments like that lend to the feeling that we should all jump ship take our children and run.

I was trying to keep this brief! Oh well. Positive determined people are in the best position to be productive. Anxiety and fear lead to people freezing and giving up. Let’s not wallow there. Too much is at stake for that. I would love to see some articles focusing on what creative and innovative things are being done to maintain or create educational richness in the face of financial crisis. Of course I feel that one of those things that should be featured is what Cedar is up to.

Coupeville is a great community filled with amazing people who could offer to share their expertise/talents and knowledge. Honestly, if we work together and focus on what we have instead of what has been taken, we can still make this next year great for every one of Coupeville’s kids. Let’s take stock of where we are and decide to move forward and build what we want to see. Additionally, please don’t print sensational articles about the Cedar program! They are damaging in many ways. We are a vibrant valuable part of this community and we are not an albatross.

Patty Bruland lives in Coupeville.

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