Letters to the Editor

Closure due to head count

Ms. Herrick’s “Soundoff” column (“Students need more support,” April 21) purported to “put forth some more facts.” Here are a few facts she and other readers may also find of interest.

The closing of Clover Valley Elementary is unrelated to an alleged “lack of state funding (which) has also caused several other school districts to make the hard decision to have to close a school.” The closure is due to the fact that elementary level student enrollment in Oak Harbor has nose-dived. The state does not fund schools for which students do not exist.

The same phenomenon of many less students is occurring in many other places in Washington besides Oak Harbor, so they are similarly closing schools.

Claims that “the state is not giving its education program the money needed to run the schools” are highly questionable. For example, in Oak Harbor, early predictions for next year’s school operating budget show that Oak Harbor will receive the same revenue to run its schools next year that it received this year, despite having 300 less students next year and despite having one less elementary school to operate. If enrollment is more than predicted, that revenue amount will increase accordingly.

With respect to Ms. Herrick’s call to eliminate the WASL and “put school back to the way it should be,” I suggest she consider that the Education Reform Act of 1993 was borne from the necessity to abandon a failed “seat-time” education system and so it created our current performance-based system. The WASL exams are but one of the many means used to assess student learning under this system. Also, multiple options exist for students to earn the required Certificate of Academic Achievement if they have difficulty with the WASL exam itself. Those include the use of PSAT, SAT or ACT scores for math, a “Collection of Evidence” process or a WASL grades comparison. They are viewable here: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/CAAoptions/.

William Burnett

Oak Harbor

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