Students find success in updated facilities | Cathy Dalhquist

The following is written by former Rep. Cathy Dahlquist:

There it sits. It has company. It lies beneath that pile of mail you have on your kitchen counter.  You may not open it. It’s too much trouble. You have got to find a stamp. You don’t really know what the entire hubbub is about.

As an American it’s your privilege. It’s your voice. It’s your ballot.

I was honored to serve this community in two capacities over the last 10 years. Elected in 2010 as a school board director and most recently, as a state representative and leading as the ranking member on the House Education Committee.

Excellent educational outcomes rely on exceptional education staff; something the Enumclaw School District has going for us. Great outcomes also rely on a facility that can meet the needs of our students and staff. This week you should have already received your ballot for the April special election with the Enumclaw school bond proposal.

I’ve heard some people say, “…those cinder block walls were good enough for me, why are they not good enough for kids nowadays?” The last of my three children graduated from Enumclaw High School last year.  She would alternate between sweating and freezing, unable to concentrate at times because of the heating/cooling system failures.

You might ask, “Then why don’t you just fix those systems like we do at our homes?” The answer to that is simple; the costs of replacing the systems are less expensive than trying to fix them. Many of the replacement parts to the ancient boiler systems are not available for purchase any longer so they are cobbled together by our facilities department with the hope they can limp along through another school year, thus leaving our students and staff in conditions none of us would tolerate in our own homes or workplace.

We are at a crossroads in our school district with aging facilities. Students today have access to technology that was never envisioned nearly 60 years ago when the facilities were constructed.  Employers today are no longer looking for the same type of skilled workforce they were looking for in 1960. Many manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas or humans have been replaced with electronic devices that build what we as Americans, choose to purchase. Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and Starbucks are not looking for employees to construct widgets, they are looking for people to program computers, market products, design airplanes and serve coffee. Nearly 70 percent of jobs today require a four-year, post-high school degree. In 1960, only 30 percent of jobs required post-graduate studies and most high school graduates went directly into the work force.

Don’t we want to prepare our kids for success? To do that, we need to offer them the best opportunity to graduate with the skills that prepare them for life after leaving the Enumclaw School District.  Those skills are demanding and require a facility and access to real work experiences in an up-to-date classroom. Whether a student chooses to go directly into the work force, attend a technical or community college or seek a four-year degree from a university, they need to be prepared. Isn’t our responsibility to teach them skills and prepare each and every one of them to be relevant and wanted by employers today?

I have read the voter pamphlet and would implore you all to seek accurate facts. The truth is we have a unique opportunity to not increase our taxes and improve our schools along with our community by committing to voting “yes” in support of a better future for us all.

Go digging. Find that ballot in the pile of mail on your kitchen counter. Be positive, proactive and engage in the privilege afforded to you as an American and vote; yes for our kids!

Cathy Dahlquist served in the Washington state House of Representatives ( 2011-15) and was a member of the Enumclaw School Board (2005-11).