As I compose this message, it is truly impossible to believe that we are less than a week from the end of the school year. How can that be?
As I complete my seventh year as your superintendent, I am struck by how far we’ve come during that time and all that we have before us. I was hired as superintendent in March 2008, just as the economy was heading into a tailspin and some of the largest financial institutions in the nation—those supposedly “too big to fail”—began to do just that. By the time school started that September, we were deep into the Great Recession facing rising unemployment, a decimated housing market and extreme levels of anxiety and uncertainty. On top of that, we were also experiencing enrollment decline, further eroding our largest revenue source, state funding.
The next several years were very challenging as we saw multimillion dollar cuts in state funding compounded by further enrollment decline. We faced many difficult and painful choices. But we stayed together as a school community, continued to invest in our core mission of classroom instruction, and persevered for the sake of the students, families and community we serve. While there was certainly loss, we also took great strides forward with investments in updated curriculum and new courses and programs to meet the growing needs and interests of our students.
Now the past three years have witnessed a turnaround that could not have been imagined in those dark days of 2008 and 2009. Housing is booming again, enrollment is growing rapidly and several school communities are severely impacted by overcrowding. State funding is steadily improving and gone are the days of multimillion dollar annual budget cuts. While challenges remain, they are clearly of a different sort than those of a few short years ago
As we close out the 2014-15 school year, we have much to celebrate and look forward to as we continue to strengthen our instructional programs and focus greater attention on district-wide equity, diversity and inclusion. Continued planning for the opening of North Creek High School, district-wide grade reconfiguration and boundary adjustments in the fall of 2017 will also be foremost on our agenda in the coming school year. These are monumental changes that will impact the Northshore community for decades to come. If you’re like me and feeling a bit exhausted and overwhelmed as the year comes to a close, you have good reason to feel that way. We have much on our collective plates right now…exciting, frustrating, promising and perplexing, all at the same time.
So thank you for continuing to believe in and support the world-class public education we provide for close to 21,000 students each day. No matter what your role—student, parent, teacher, administrator, support staff or community member—you play an important part in our continued service to our kids and their future promise and potential. I wish you a safe and restful summer and look forward to another outstanding year for the Northshore School District in the 2015-16 school year.
Larry Francois is the superintendent for the Northshore School District.