SOUNDOFF: Help make better schools

Having heard and read about some of the criticism concerning our school district, I decided to see first hand what was going on at the Oak Harbor School District 201 Administration Support Center.

Much to my surprise, I found a school board that truly cared about the educational needs of our students. I discovered a district leadership and management team that engaged the public with financial and education plans to ensure that limited resources were being carefully safeguarded.

I met teachers, staff, parents and volunteers that share a genuine concern for the welfare and education of our most precious resource-our future. I decided to be part of the solution!

As the newest school board member, I have immense respect for the school district professionals, teachers, and staff that go about their daily business working hard to impart a measurable improvement in the quality of our children's education.

I see a bright student body whose hopes and dreams reside in our ability to adequately fund their educational needs. Is the process perfect and without need for continuous improvement -- of course not? These efforts are conducted openly in announced public forums such as meetings and workshops in which citizens can not only participate, but are encouraged. Your education leadership works hard to bring together diverse groups of people that represent all sides of critical issues where every opinion is heard and respected. While forming a consensus means that not all sides of the debate are going to be satisfied, hard decisions are still made in a sensible and fiscally responsible manner.

To be an effective public entity, every concerned citizen's participation is necessary. It is convenient and often easier to write letters concerning criticism and vague, nonspecific problems, shortcomings and inadequacies, but I assure you it is more satisfying and effective to engage your school district officials with meaningful dialogue and when necessary, debate.

Any shortcomings in our local school district is truly a reflection of our community and culture and not something that can be conveniently pinned on any one person or group. So, if you see problems with our education system, look first within before you cast that stone. Better yet, get involved and be part of the education solution.

I believe that we, the community of Oak Harbor, can create a school district that everyone can be proud of and one we all can afford. It's going to take all of us rolling up our sleeves and when necessary, getting a little dirty. It's going to take all of us to put past disappointments and frustrations behind us and working together as a team. It's going to take all of us to find the resources needed to accomplish our education goals. From what I've seen in my short tenure, I believe our community is up to that task!

Dave McCool is a member of Oak Harbor School Board.

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