Letters to The Editor: May 2-8, 2024


The Editor:

Like many school districts, our district faces budget cuts this spring. There are four main reasons for this in Blaine. First, approximately 85 percent of our school district’s budget is spent on salaries. Thus, any salary increases profoundly affect our budget.

Second, salaries for Blaine teachers will have increased by up to 53 percent over seven years from 2017-18 to 2024-25. Unions for other school employees in Blaine have argued that their raises should parallel teachers’ raises and so these have increased at roughly a similar rate.

Third, the state has decreased its relative support for K-12 education throughout Washington. The percentage of the state budget devoted to K-12 education has declined from 52.4 percent in 2018-19 to 43.1 percent in 2023-24. This is a decrease of nearly 10 percent. While not a perfect marker for state K-12 funding it is an indicator of our state’s relative commitment.

Fourth, the state legislature, responding to the McCleary court decision, has prevented us from receiving state dollars that we once received.

Our school district’s budget challenges should not be surprising. Teachers’ salaries are up 53 percent while the percentage of the state budget devoted to K-12 education is down 10 percent. This produces a deficit that calls for reductions. Add to this that there is even less funding for Blaine because of the McCleary decision and you can see that budget reductions will be even greater than for many other districts.

The school budget deficit is real. As long as salaries increase and state funding does not keep up, cuts will have to be made. Sadly, our children will pay this price.

Last year, false information was spread about our school district’s financial situation. It caused divisiveness and harm to our community. Hopefully, the facts above will increase understanding and help us move to a thoughtful solution for our children’s education. Could school employees suspend their raises for a bit? Could our state legislators direct sufficient dollars to schools? Thoughtful conversation can often produce thoughtful outcomes. I hope this happens.

Don Leu, former school board

member and president



The Editor:

What’s up with the city selling public parking to downtown developers? Are they going to privatize 120 spaces of on-street parking? That’s the whole downtown!

Or is it a monetary contribution to go toward a municipal parking garage? If so, does that mean the new condo tenants use up all street parking leaving tourists with no parking until the municipal garage is built sometime in the distant future?

Blaine is already on the brink of bankruptcy having recently announced a 33 percent budget cut for 2024. Killing downtown recovery for a couple of condo developers will be the final nail in the coffin.

Jay Taber



The Editor:

We all thought the Blaine High School students who performed in last year’s “Into the Wood” musical were great, and anticipated that this year’s “Mamma Mia!” musical comedy would be similarly great but it must be said that they have out-done themselves this year.

Starting with the incredibly beautiful set, which extends out into the normal seating area for the audience, it’s so fun to see the kids use every inch of that set with their singing and dancing and acting. Then the upbeat music (although ancient, as in from the 1970s and ’80s) draws everyone into a spirit of fun; for me, watching octogenarians beginning to smile, then nod their heads in time to the music, trying to remember those lyrics they loved way back then – this has been pure delight.

Next, the actors themselves have brought their very best to this endeavor, with exciting choreography, with young and strong voices, and radiating that sense of happiness which characterized the Swedish pop group ABBA – their talents and enthusiasm shows strongly through the two-act show.

It’s also exciting to see a live pit orchestra recreating “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper” and “The Winner Takes It All” and so many beloved songs. Both last year’s and this year’s shows are wonderful and successful, which is largely due to the vision and talent of the amazing BHS drama teacher, Ms. Olivia Theilemann.

I am so proud of our Blaine high school kids! We live in a wonderful community.

Jeanne Halsey

Birch Bay


The Editor:

I would like to applaud the Blaine school district and our local community in supporting the Rebound Families Roots Family Enrichment Program this year.

Rebound Families is a local nonprofit that has served Whatcom County’s children and adults impacted by trauma for 27 years. Over 70 percent of Whatcom County’s school-aged children are currently suffering from adverse childhood experiences. Sadly, unhealthy cycles of neglect or abuse continue from one generation to another if support and resources are not offered.

The Roots Family Enrichment Program teaches children how to recognize and navigate intense emotions and outbursts in healthy ways. While the children learn, the adults meet to share the realities and challenges of parenting while striving to stop generational trauma in a supportive environment.

This eight-week, research-based program received a 100 percent participant recommendation. Your local school district, including the school’s counselors, invited families to attend.

The senior center kindly hosted the program, and the boys & girls clubs allowed the children to learn onsite. Local families donated dinners which were served at the beginning of each session. The Blaine community shines when it supports those that struggle and are seeking help.

Keri Smith, executive director of Rebound Families



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