Superintendent's Message

Spring 2015

Dr. Gary Plano Dear Mercer Island district staff, parents, and patrons,

Spring has officially arrived! With it comes a great deal of progress on several initiatives for our Mercer Island public schools.

The High School Start-Time Committee recently met again to discuss later start times for high school students. The discussion has reached the second of three phases. Committee members are beginning to solicit and record input from various school and community stakeholder groups. If you have input, follow this link and reach out to Mercer Island School District Director of Transportation and Emergency Management, Todd Kelsay.

At the end of April, district teachers and administrators will join me in examining and exploring the elementary world language program at the Annie Wright Academy in Tacoma. They have added a targeted world language in their elementary program in a manner similar to what we are exploring. I look forward to seeing what they have implemented and to hearing their insights. We continue to discuss the feasibility of introducing a targeted world language program in our elementary schools in the 2016-17 school year. You can read more about our progress through this link.

The Mercer Island Schools Foundation "Breakfast of Champions" is scheduled for the morning of April 28. I look forward to this event each year and the chance to spend time with community members who care so deeply about Mercer Island public schools. It is a great opportunity to share some of the incredible work happening in every one of our classrooms, and to address the very real funding challenges our schools face.

The 2015 legislative session is more than halfway though, barring a special session, and we still have not seen clear agreement on a path to fully fund our public schools. The lack of a budget and clear agreement on what will be funded next year makes Mercer Island community support through the Mercer Island Schools Foundation even more critical as we build a bridge to the future for every one of our students.

The Mercer Island School District sits in the middle of Washington state's 295 school districts when it comes to public revenue per student. For example, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Seattle Public Schools receives revenues of $11,085 per student and the Bellevue School District receives revenues of $9,428 per student in public funding. The Mercer Island School District, in comparison, receives only $9,218 per student in public funding.

Thanks to contributions from the Mercer Island Schools Foundation, PTAs, and boosters, Mercer Island students receive an additional $1,233 per student. Seattle Public Schools receives an additional $586 per student from similar contributions, and the Bellevue School District receives an additional $1,165 per student.

Those contributions to the Mercer Island School District are the fulcrum that allows our school district to afford the many teachers and programs that make such a meaningful impact on every one of our students. That is why your support remains critical to the success of every one of our students. Please help us build a bridge to the future.

Thank you and best regards,

Gary Plano, Ed. D.