As Aberdeen’s City Engineer and a graduate of Aberdeen schools, I strongly endorse the Aberdeen School District’s proposed 2019-2020 levy for education programs and operations, and I urge you to vote “yes” when ballots are issued on Jan. 26.
This levy will continue current funding levels which were previously approved by voters in 2016. The collected revenue will be used for staffing, music, athletics, transportation, field trips, instructional material, computers, software and building repairs: all the day-to-day needs of a modern school district. With the State not yet fully funding education, this levy will help ensure that Aberdeen remains an excellent place to live and raise a family.
My education at Aberdeen schools started in kindergarten in 1989 and continued through graduation from high school in 2002, including attendance at Robert Gray Elementary, Miller Junior High, and J. M. Weatherwax High School. Only in retrospect do I fully appreciate the teachers, support staff, programs, field trips, and all the associated equipment, materials, and facilities that contributed to my experience.
Music, sports and lots of other programs were available early on. Elementary school football and basketball quickly showed that high-dexterity, team-oriented sports were not my forte. Thankfully, track and cross country were offered in grades 7-12, which turned out to better fit my proclivity for running really far. Music programs were offered in all grades and were a huge positive influence on me, providing much-needed creative and cultural outlets. My experience included grade school general music, concert band and jazz band; junior high concert band, jazz band, and World Rhythm ensemble; and high school concert band, jazz band, marching band, pep band and musical theater. (If there were a few more hours in the day, I would have joined orchestra and choir, too!)
These programs and others that many of my classmates took part in, enrich lives by allowing students to discover their abilities, explore opportunities, face challenges, and improve strengths, enhancing overall education and quality of life. Aberdeen schools and their supporting programs helped me to discover my professional interest in science and engineering. I attended the University of Washington after high school, graduating in 2006 with a degree in civil engineering. Persistence, hard work and a bit of luck brought me back to Aberdeen in 2016 to be the city engineer after 10 years as a consultant in Seattle and Olympia. Now I have the opportunity to reinvest in my community through stewardship of its public infrastructure and planning for its long-term sustainability and success. Well-funded schools are an important part of that future.
Looking at the big picture, education funding is an investment with proven community benefits. As an engineer, I rely on data- and evidence-based decision-making. School funding results in non-trivial improvements to graduation rates and graduates’ family incomes later in life, and it has been shown to reduce adult poverty rates. As an advocate for the long-term success of our community, I know that low incomes and poverty are challenges, and while there are contributing factors that may be outside of our local control, education funding is one choice we can make to combat these issues in a substantial way.
Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 13. Please vote “yes” for the levy and our community!