I had the privilege to be the chair of the annual Sorensen Magnet School for the Arts and Humanities this year on March 23. The event was a huge success again, up over 15 percent in revenue from the prior year. This little school of around 300 K-6 students manages to raise their own funds to support the magnet curriculum. This year it looks like the 2013 auction will raise a total of around $85,000. The proceeds will be used to purchase musical instruments, artist in residence, art supplies, theatrical equipment and licensing, teacher's continued education, special events, field trips and much, much more. It truly is an amazing school with dedicated parents and, what we believe to be, one-in-a-million teachers all working toward a common goal, the best education achievable.
You could say I have some "skin in the game" being a Sorensen Alumni myself, a downtown business and property owner and now have two children attending Sorensen this year. Being the auction chair, for the second year, as well as being intimately involved in every auction since the inception of the magnet school concept eight years ago, I have paid very close attention to the school board, its changes and how it now treats its schools, administrators and teachers. I have gone to many of the board meetings and have provided marketing services through my firm to help promote the last M&O levy and school bond to help ensure their passage.
So, upward of 400 people came on Saturday night to show their support both financially and personally to a little school that was to be shuttered just seven years ago due to low student count, lagging test scores and a badly aging building. Today, Sorensen is a top testing school with a waiting list in the hundreds. It is slated for building updates over the summer and praised by Realtors for improving property values. All of this can be attributed to the parents and staff who give 120 percent day in and day out. And, don't think it's because Sorensen is a wealthy district, or hand picks their students. It still ranks high on the list of schools with students needing food assistance. This school is a test case of what can be done well in public schools.
What was disheartening to myself and to other parents, teachers and attendees that I spoke to at the auction is that not a single current school board member came to show their support and see what a special thing they have in their district. Not one. They seemed to have no problem clearing their schedules to attend the Republican Fundraiser Lincoln Dinner only weeks earlier. This seems to paint a picture of where their priorities lie, and it is apparently not with the children or the success of our schools.
At the very least the board could have sent one member to represent and show they want to see our schools succeed. But, then again this just helps solidify what I suspected, and that is, this board is not there for the betterment of our public schools or to improve education in our city. They are there as part of a strip-it-down political agenda, put in place by Citizens for Better Education and the Reagan Republicans. I just hope the parents and citizens see this and vote accordingly in May for new school board members who actually do value our public schools, have vision for what they can become and most importantly show it through their actions.
Thank you for attending our annual auction Christa Hazel and Tom Hearn. I wish you the best of luck in May.
Adam Graves is a resident of Coeur d'Alene.