Letters to the Editor

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SCHOOLS: Peninsula levy deserves support

Letter by James J. Coolican, Flat Rock, Mich. on Jan. 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm with 35 Comments »
January 13, 2012 4:19 pm

The Peninsula School District, by any criteria, is a superb district. It is recognized for its graduates, excellent educators, and supportive parents and community.

When a delegation from China, representing the Tsinghua School in Beijing, was searching for a school district in the United States to partner with, it chose Peninsula. After the Chinese visited school districts in California, Oregon and Washington, Peninsula was selected because the delegation was most impressed with our students, the quality of our schools and our community.

To maintain the high standards of the Peninsula schools it is necessary to ask the citizens to support the upcoming levy. Unfortunately, the state does not provide adequate funding to schools.

I became the superintendent after the district went through several years of failed levies. Those years had a severe negative impact on the district, and neither the district nor the community should ever again experience the consequences of a failed levy. I am forever grateful to the taxpayers for supporting the levies during my tenure.

I strongly encourage the citizens of the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor to support students and teachers in the upcoming levy. Good schools and good communities are a sound investment.

(Coolican is a former Peninsula School District superintendent.)

Leave a comment Comments → 35
  1. I do understand that our schools are under funded but we property owners are being over taxed therefore we will be voting no. I feel bad about this but with our limited income there is just no way we can support this. The state needs to come up with a better way to fund the schools instead of always hitting up the property owners with more increases in taxes. I do not have an answer to this but do know that at least 60% or more of our property taxes are for schools and there needs to be a more fair and better way to deal with this.

  2. truthbusterguy says:

    I see that Mr. Coolican now lives in Michigan. Did he leave here because he was taxed out of his home like many will be if this levy is approved.

    Just another tax and spend former school superintendent endosing the new tax and spend superintendent.

    Sorry, but when will the schools live within their means and stop coming to us with hat in hand. Haven’t you heard, the people are hurting and even in yuppy Gig Harbor many are broke and they vote no.

    This is a regressive tax that will hurt the working poor. Don’t forget to vote, it’s your check and balance to stop runaway bureaucracy. You snooze, you lose. Vote no, it’s for the kids and their debt free future.

  3. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Only in Americia can I vote myself a $542 saving in my property tax. A NO vote to reduce my taxes this much is huge.

    I will need that money to pay the other taxes, fees and tolls they are raising. I can’t seen to get ahead. I can barly pay my house payment and a tax increase will break my budget. Sorry, but it’s come down to paying for food, Rx or school taxes. Many are like me and at the end of my rope and they just seem to want more $$$$.

    Please help me save my house for my family and vote no.

  4. alindasue says:


    Since when has Tacoma been on the peninsula? Either your moniker is inaccurate, or these aren’t even your taxes that you are claiming to vote against.

    Personally, I think that if you do live in the Peninsula school district, it would be in your best interest to support keeping the schools well funded and high quality. Good schools set the tone for the community and are a major factor when determining the property resale values in the neighborhood.

  5. I am one of those in the Peninsula School District and will be voting NO on any tax increase for any cause!That means All causes,Get It?My living costs keep rising but my income stays about the same.The Government says there has been no raise in the cost of living but there has to be a valid reason my income will not cover the expenses that I incur now,compared to what they were 10 years ago.I am in the notion I would trade incomes with some of those that have fallen in love with more and higher taxes.

  6. blakeshouse says:

    Oh boy!!!! The Chinese approve of the district. They hold sway over every penny in this country thanks to the failure in chief and his reckless spending so why not control individual school districts too. While the peninsula decides whether or not to support more waste fraud and abuse in spending for their district as well as the state I will vote no on my local levy measure this time, as I have in the past, until it can be proven that the idiots in Olympia understand that they have to stay within their means period!!!!!

  7. crusader says:

    Vote No.

    It is time to starve the beast that is the teacher’s union.

  8. hultmale says:

    There is a very common theme in the comments from people who are voting NO. The use of the words “I”, “me” and “my”.

    We need to be thinking “we”, “us” and “our” to have a thriving community.

  9. BigSwingingRichard says:


    We are tired of paying so much in property taxes. We are tired of see the teachers’ union command influence over taxpayers. We are tired of constantly being threatened with the destruction of all society over school levies.

    We are tired of the State not funding education and allowing local school districts to use local levies to illegally fund basic education.

    We are tired of illegal teacher strikes and the teachers’ union.

    We are voting no.

  10. NWflyfisher says:

    Year after year we hear the same “the schools are underfunded” argument. With very few exceptions, the taxpayers give in. Enough is enough. The emotional “for the children” argument has been worn out. Now its time for school administrators to get serious and find ways to operate the schools more efficiently and cost effec tively with what they have.

    Vote NO on the Peninsula school levy.

  11. alindasue says:

    BigSwingRichard said, “We are tired of illegal teacher strikes…”

    I don’t remember the Peninsula teachers going on strike. Are you, perhaps, projecting your anger at the Tacoma teachers onto the Peninsula school district. If so, is it because you live in Tacoma and not the Peninsula?

    So far, only sincere has actually stated that he/she lives in the Peninsula district and will be affected by the school levy. How many of you “voting no” people here even live on the peninsula? This is their issue and their school funding and/or property tax issue to be concerned about.

    Don’t project your anger at the Tacoma/Puyallup/wherever district into their argument.

  12. GHTaxPayer says:

    Alinda – He is referring to the illegal Tacoma teachers strike.

    I will be voting YES on the levy because the Dems in Olympia are woefully underfunding the schools. The Peninsula Schools have made deep cuts and are very frugal with our money. I have two kids in the Peninsula schools and I have been tracking their budget.

    The real problem is that Supt. Terry Bouck has allowed the teachers union to shrink the number of days at school and we desperately need to get those days back. Please call 530-1000 and ask Terry Bouck to eliminate Late Start Wednesday, all of the half days, and change Presidents Week back to Presidents Day.

    Our children deserve a longer school year with MORE learning.

    Thank You !

  13. NWflyfisher says:

    alindasue: alindasue, I live on the peninsula; do you? I take it you would also argue Mr James J. Coolican of Flat Rock, Mich, the originator of the above LTE, has no business interjecting his comments regarding the Peninsula school levy regardless of his prior association. Hooray for you, I whole heartedly agree.

  14. NWflyfisher says:

    GHTaxPayer: Your issue is with the Unions and Superintendant Terry Bouck, not with taxpayer funding since they are the ones holding education hostage.

  15. alindasue says:

    NWflyfisher said, “alindasue, I live on the peninsula; do you?”

    No. I live in Tacoma. I believe in supporting schools but, as I said, this is really a fight for you locals to discuss. I just read your debates out of interest.

    The letter writer is a different matter. I do believe that Mr. Coolican, as a former superintendent of the Peninsula school district, does have a vested interest in its issues in a similar way that I, as an alumnus of Fife High School would have a vested interest in Fife school district issues.

  16. alindasue: I have lived on the Peninsula for 13 years and will be voting NO on any new school levy’s. It is time for the over burdened property owner to get a break on their property taxes. There has got to be a better way to help fund schools. As I stated before, at least 60% of our property taxes are for schools. There are many that now “home school” their children (my daughter for one) and the money paid for their public schooling doesn’t even follow them to help out with home schooling. This is just another example of mismanagement in my opinion.

  17. I had stepkids in the Peninsula School District a number of years ago. The school sent home more begging letters for support than they did homework!!!

    One of those kids finally “got it” regarding math, when I showed him! The school just couldn’t figure out a way to help him understand certain concepts!

  18. Anybody here remember Ron Lopp? All during the 90s, he made many of the same arguments against tax increases that are being made today.

    So it seems that no matter how “grateful” the school district is when it gets the latest levy passed, that gratitude never quite solves the problem.

    Taxed Enough Already. Figure it out because the guilt tripping of voters doesn’t work any more. Nobody cares that the school district caves in and signs irrational contracts. Let them live with it.

  19. taxedenoughintacoma says:


    No matter where you live the issue of school funding is a major concern. How can you say this is just a Gig Harbor issue? The letter was written from a guy in another state!

    Failing and inefficient schools is a national issue and changes will need to start locally. The state is failing an entire generation of students and money is not the problem.

    There is not a government school in the state where we are getting bang for our buck and throwing more money down the toilet is not the answer. Schools must reform and they will never start as long as we keep funding the status quo.

    Let me change the argument here. It is now the duty of concerned citizens to VOTE NO on all school levies and do so “for the sake of the children’s futures”. Until we break the hold the teachers unions have on families and force school boards to make changes the quality and standards in schools will continue the downward trend.

    No mater where you live we are being taxed to death and the state is pouring on more taxes, fees and toll hikes. All counties must send a signal to government that “WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH”. They can do so by a NO VOTE.

  20. The letters from the “No” voters are some of the most ignorant I have read in a long time. Holding back on funding for schools will never be felt by the adults who run the schools, but it will be felt by the kids.

  21. Publico: The schools waste more money than most of us could even dream of having. I do not believe a NO vote will help the school district wake up because they will just keep spending our money to guilt us into an unfair tax increase again and again untill we cave in. Hopefully the smart people (NO voters) will hold their ground. You must be a renter.

  22. Darlin,
    I am a home owner and better yet I am a responsible American citizen who realizes that education is the answer to better things for all of us.
    If you are willing to give that up, you are willing to see everything we worked for go backward.
    No voters for education are not smart. That leaves only one other definition.

  23. Publico? With all the ad nauseum strikes, “for the kids” speeches, handwringing, doomsaying and general groveling of the school districts that keep getting covered with passed bonds…..Where is the improvement?

  24. Dcr628, everything you complain about happens just to keep up with costs and requirements. There is no extra for improvement and as a matter of FACT, there is less. Remember to factor in inflation and all the other unfunded mandates before you make the claim that we already spend more than before.
    Try comparing school performance in wealthy districts where the kids are not in poverty and the parents can afford large levies with other schools where the opposite is true. The difference is obvious unless one is myopic.

  25. Publico says:
    Jan. 16, 2012 at 9:05 am Dcr628, everything you complain about happens just to keep up with costs and requirements

    Excuse me but you might be getting raises that help you keep up with rising costs but so many of us do not. Groceries for instance have almost doubled in the last year, gas is out of sight,etc.etc. Maybe you can afford to be a so called responsible American but I do not believe that schools take care of what they get responsibly therefore my No vote stands. Ps: your name calling just shows your ignorance Pub…

  26. SandHills says:

    Just take a look at the pay at the district superintendent. The argument is always we have to pay high salaries to get the best talent. Even if that were true, one has to ask, how come the talent that demanded such a high salary isn’t managing his/her resources better?

    The first question the public should ask their elected school board is how come the school administration is not being held to some sort of standard to manage before coming to the taxpayers to bail out poor management? If there is no satisfactory response, then start a recall effort for school board.

    Don’t just complain about the school board asking for more money – you elected them, make them work for you and make them make the highly paid school administrators work harder and more smarter for that salary.

  27. alindasue says:

    taxedenoughintacoma said, “No matter where you live the issue of school funding is a major concern. How can you say this is just a Gig Harbor issue? The letter was written from a guy in another state!”

    The issue of school funding IS a major concern and if the topic here was about how the state is funding the schools (or not) then it would be everyone’s concern. However, this is not a state funding concern; it is a local school district levy.

    Even though the letter writer is currently living out of state, he is a former superintendent of the Peninsula school district and therefor has a vested interest in its welfare. You, on the other hand, are “taxed enough” in TACOMA, which would imply that, like myself, you do not live in the Peninsula school district. Unless you have some other connection to that district that has not been stated yet, this is not your issue. It is theirs.

    Save your arguments for the next TACOMA levy, please.

  28. I called no one a name Darlin. Maybe you simply felt some guilty connection. All I did was to make a comparison. Did you happen to fall in the category of not being able to discern the obvious?

  29. sandhills says: “Even if that were true, one has to ask, how come the talent that demanded such a high salary isn’t managing his/her resources better?”
    You do not know that for a fact and are therefore reaching an unfounded conclusion to satisfy your preconceived notions. It is a logical fallacy.

  30. SandHills says:

    Publico, one would have to believe a superintendent of this district is making well over $200k per year – if I am wrong I would appreciate any facts that counter that assumptiln. And whenever there is a public paid manager, at any salary, I do expect some accountability – something all your rants on TNT forums about spending more tax revenues to solve problems fail to acknowledge.

    Now, start with e ad hominems….

  31. SandHills says:

    I stand corrected, in regards to superintendent salaries – Peninsular’s superintendent only gets $159k. Still, it is enough to expect management of resources first, before expecting an open checkbook from taxpayers. If there is always the given that more money solves everything, then many of us could probablly do the superintendents job and be happy whith this salary.

    Great site to see at least the salaries of school districts employees statewide:


  32. SandHills says:

    Ulon a deeper review of the site I previously mentioned above there are 6 other nondescript Peninsular district administrators besides the superintendent and deputy superintendent that are making over $100k salary.

    The only thing that really bothers me is that my own district of Puyallup has 15 such postions that could be looked at to save money for the classrooms.

  33. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    click on the more link and see what he gets in benefits. over $180K

    will you get over it? Yep, I live in Tacoma but I pay tax in GH for the ex and kids. They go at Henderson Bay school so I HAVE A SAY AND A NO VOTE.

  34. sandblower says:

    Sandy says: “And whenever there is a public paid manager, at any salary, I do expect some accountability.”
    Yet another fallacious statement is committed when you say you expect some accountability……. as though there is none. There is accountability all over the place for school supers.
    By the way, what is your idea of what accountability is? We can then compare it to what actually happens.

  35. GHparent says:

    As a parent of 3 kids in the district as well as a former employee of the district I am torn on this issue. I want to support the schools, and students, it’s great teachers and clerical staff but I do not feel this administration is using its money wisely. Additionally the new levy rate does not include the bond rate which we are also paying and which was supposed to update and upgrade enough so we could sustain our technology and buildings for much longer than the few years it has been since its passage. The tech dept has used its budget poorly and gone over budget repeatedly. Not to mention the director is using his position at PSD to garner clients for a for profit educational consulting company along with other members in his dept which to me is a blatant conflict of interest. http://www.3wedcg.com/meet-our-team/jb-fitzpatrick Overall, I do hope that we will see better times for education both from the state and from those we have put in charge of managing our schools because it is well documented that money is not the real answer to quality education.

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