Letters to the Editor for Sept. 16, 2014

WSD students are excelling

A recent letter to the editor titled “Outraged by school district’s failure to perform,” prompted me to respond to the allegations that the Washougal School District is failing to provide a quality education to our kids. This is far from the truth.

The majority of the students are excelling under the leadership of Superintendent Dawn Tarzian. During the past three years that she has held the position, test scores have climbed and our schools have received numerous awards for achievement. I have attended countless meetings where hard working teachers, classified staff and administrators have presented the factual data documenting this growth.

These facts have been overshadowed by a recent letter issued by the district, which states that our schools have not met the required standards stipulated by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Our schools did not take a nose dive and end up in this category. The fact is the State of Washington has been operating for the past two years under a waiver from the federal government allowing for an alternate process for establishing benchmarks for student growth.

In 2014, the waiver was rescinded and all of the school districts in the state were once again mandated to meet the requirements of the NCLB. This drove 273 of the 295 school districts in the state of Washington to send similar state drafted letters to the parents of their students.

The NCLB requirement that 100 percent of the students meet established standards is a very high bar that more than 90 percent of the districts in the state do not meet. This does not mean that Washougal and other districts are not actually demonstrating high achievement. It means that at least one child has not met standard.

There is currently a movement in the state, supported by much of the legislative body, to have the federal government reinstate the waiver. The waiver does not diminish the efforts of Washougal or any of the other districts to provide a quality education to each and every student and to make every effort to have each student meet or exceed standard.

The Washougal School District Board of Directors, administration, and staff are all committed to providing every possible resource and support needed to help each student be successful.

Karen Rubino, director, Washougal School Board

Seize the opportunity now, or you may lose it forever

It is with real dismay that I see that the City Council of Washougal has chosen to take a pass on purchasing the property offered for sale by Riverside Seventh-day Adventist Church. An opportunity to purchase a tract of land to provide not just neighboring parking, but, more importantly, a safer situation for the citizens of Washougal using the Sandy Swimming Hole may not come again.

I have lived in Washougal for almost 15 years and I have seen the parking situation along Shepherd Road during the summer months become increasingly dangerous. The population of Washougal has increased by several thousand since I moved here in 2000. Much of that population can be seen on the hillside above Shepherd Road.

On a day-to-day basis, Shepherd Road experiences much more traffic than it did even five years ago. Increasing housing growth will only intensify the hazard for walkers and bikers as Shepherd Road is, for the most part, a road without sidewalks and almost no shoulders for safe pedestrian or bike traffic.

City personnel have told me that providing sidewalks along Shepherd Road is, for several reasons, not feasible in the foreseeable future. I understand this would be a very costly and difficult undertaking.

That being so, can the Council not show some foresight? I understand that the city may not be able to purchase the property and develop it for parking at the same time. However, why not plan for the future in incremental steps?

If the Council chooses to pass on this opportunity can they articulate any option that would lessen the hazard on Shepherd Road and provide a more adequate parking situation for the Sandy Swimming Hole? (“No” is not a reasonable position without a well-thought out alternative).

This is not just a park/recreation issue, it is foremost a safety issue that should be addressed now when there is an opportunity to do so. Providing a safe environment for its citizens is surely one of the primary responsibilities of any city council.

Barbara Carpenter, Washougal

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