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Members of the Board of the Mercer Island School District:

As Mercer Island residents and involved parents of children at IMS and MIHS, we are writing to express our strong support for nonresident “open” enrollment at IMS and MIHS. 

While we feel strong arguments exist for open enrollment in any circumstance, the current and projected enrollment declines make the decision clear.


It is a reality fortunately recognized by the Board that there is no maintaining the quality of facilities and instruction currently offered, and our deeply valued neighborhood schools, without increasing enrollment.  


As we understand it, given the lack of appetite in Olympia to change how state funding is allocated, MISD confronts a choice between increasing enrollment or significantly cutting costs.  Cutting costs will have an immediate impact on the quality of instruction and facilities available to Mercer Island students.  Denying open enrollment significantly risks a spiral of declining quality and loss of enrollment.  Open enrollment, on the other hand, “plugs the gap” in revenue and preserves the budgets, programs and staff that make the Mercer Island School District among the best in the state.  


We believe most Islanders recognize this, which is no surprise as this island is largely comprised of families that raised, or are raising, their families here because of the excellent schools and the care, attention and resources the community devotes to them.   We believe open enrollment plays on rather than dilutes these strengths, and in turn will benefit the community as a whole. 


Why we support open enrollment:

1. Efficiency.  Increasing the number of students utilizes our existing facilities efficiently.  Empty classrooms don’t help anyone.

2. Teacher and Staff Retention. Our schools are great because of our teachers and staff. We should keep them, and give them students to teach.

3. Diverse Academic and Extracurricular offerings.  A full sized and diverse student body will allow the district to maintain its wide course and extracurricular offerings and pathways, offering all students a richer and more tailored experience.

4. Flexibility. Enrollment doesn’t require long term expenditure or commitment, and by its nature can be “throttled” to match the needs of Islanders.

5. Engagement.  We believe those off island families who would seek to enroll their children on Mercer Island (and make the sacrifices to obtain it) are exactly the type of families who should be welcome here.  They aren’t” like” us, they are us – wanting the best for their children and sacrificing to achieve it.  

6. Long Term Success.   Our schools are a resource and a legacy.  Cuts to staff and facilities run contrary to this, and lead to a future less promising than the past. 


We recognize there is a vocal, but we believe small, minority opposed to open enrollment.   We urge the Board not to confuse them with the majority of the community, and to think critically about their arguments and whether they reflect the values or objectives of the community as a whole. 


A period of open enrollment was ending when we moved to the island with young children. It seemed entirely appropriate, just as it seems appropriate to reinstitute it now.  In this way the Mercer Island School District can continue to offer an exceptional learning environment, and like our family did, people will move here to take advantage of our amazing neighborhoods schools.  


Please approve open enrollment for the good of MISD and the entire Mercer Island community. 

Thank you for your consideration.

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