Seven Bainbridge teaching jobs saved by grassroots campaign

Seven Bainbridge teachers can trade in their pink slips for paychecks this fall.

In just over a month, Bainbridge school supporters raised over $200,000 to retain teachers laidoff during recent budget cuts. The donations – which came from yard sales, car washes and a few students’ piggy banks – will be combined with $50,000 the Bainbridge Schools Foundation raised last year and $250,000 it expects to raise during the next school year. The combined $500,000 will return seven teachers to their classrooms.

“The community has been unbelievably generous and helpful and inspiring,” foundation Executive Director Vicky Marsing said. “And it all happened in a very short time.”

Tuesday capped the five-week-long “Save Our Teachers” campaign, which was launched shortly after the Bainbridge Island School district announced it would layoff 17 teachers to help offset a $2.2 million budget shortfall.

Six teachers have since told the district that they are retiring or taking leaves of absence next year, allowing the district to rescind those layoff notices, according to district officials.

The Save Our Teachers campaign had hoped to raise enough to retain all the laid-off teachers, but with a typical teacher’s salary and benefits costing about $75,000, more than $1.2 million would have been needed, Marsing said.

The campaign used a variety of grassroots tactics to raise money.

A garage sale generated more than $22,000. Bake sales, penny drives, a dance and several rallies helped raise the rest.

“And we had checks coming in for $10 and as much as $5,000,” Marsing said, noting that over 600 individual donors contributed to the campaign.

All funds will be used for teachers’ salaries. The foundation has a goal of raising an additional $100,000 help pay for teacher training and grants.

Seniority will guide the school district in deciding which laid-off teachers will be back next school year.

“That’s one of the unfortunate pieces,” Marsing said. “Some of the new, young, vigorous teachers will still get pink slips.”

The foundation’s new fundraising goal of $350,000 for teacher salaries and training is expected to come from an October phone-a-thon, a winter wine tasting, a spring breakfast and other events.

While the foundation is ready and willing to lead fundraising efforts for island schools, Marsing said the community’s generosity likely can’t bridge the growing gap between student needs and dwindling state support.

The state’s $9 billion deficit forced cuts in education spending and teacher layoffs across Washington.

“The community does need to step up, but we also need a major change in the way the state funds education,” Marsing said.

One thought on “Seven Bainbridge teaching jobs saved by grassroots campaign

  1. The difference between the SOT — Save Our Teachers — campaign and the failed $42,000,000 bond effort is SOT is voluntary. SOT campaign identified a specific need — loss of teahcer — and a voluntary effort to raise money. The failed $42,000,000 bond was ill-defined, mandatory and not specific. Oh, yes, the ostensible reason was the repair of Wilkes but no answer was given why the rebuild amount was 100% overstated or why we had another $10,000,000 added to a bloated rebuild project.

    I would caution BISD from extrapolating from the SOT success that voters are primed for another bloated bond submission.

    I personally believe the shortage of teachers is a direct result of mis-priorities of BISD #303 LEADERSHIP on how to run a district. Let’s see less front-office types and more on-the-street teachers.

    BISD #303: beware of submitting another bloated bond in the name of the children.

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