The latest messages from David VanderYacht, Lynden Schools Superintendent
Sept. 29, 2023
I am pleased to share that last night, the Lynden School Board voted to place a Capital Projects Bond on the Feb. 13, 2024 ballot, alongside a renewal of our EP&O levy. These two funding measures will work together to ensure all students have access to programs and safe learning spaces that meet their learning needs. This decision was informed by the work of three citizen committees and a series of school board meetings which included public comment. I want to thank the members of this community who have invested their time, became informed, and were willing to engage productively in the process. There will continue to be opportunities and Lynden Schools is committed to providing information as part of an open and transparent process.
The two measures on the Feb. 13, 2024 ballot will include:
The estimated cost of the Capital Projects Bond is projected to be an increase to tax rates of $1.37 per $1,000 of assessed property value or approximately $57.25 per month for a property owner with $500,000 in assessed value. This would generate $157,500,000 in funding. Passage of the bond would also generate an additional $22 million in ‘matching’ construction funding from the state.
School districts in the state of Washington receive funding from local, state, and federal levels. However, the state does not fully fund education. That is why districts like ours rely on local property taxes to bridge the funding gap.
I fully recognize the significance of this ‘big ask’ and realize initial communications may surface more questions than provide answers. My commitment is to use the time between now and February to provide more detailed information and respond to the questions that will surely surface among our citizens. In the next couple of weeks and months, we will be meeting with community members to share information about the measures and how they support our students. By working in partnership, we can ensure our students and schools continue to have access to safe and updated learning spaces that meet their needs. In the meantime, please take a moment and learn more about the measures at our Bonds & Levies – Lynden School District (wednet.edu) website.
April 6, 2023:
The arrival of spring offers an anticipated and welcomed development! Spring Break is in full bloom and the week historically represents a marker on the progression of our collective school year. For me personally, March 31 marked the one-year anniversary of the Lynden School Board of Directors selecting me to lead the students and staff and serve the families and community stakeholders of Lynden. It’s been a genuine blessing and I’ve appreciated the thoughtful support, ongoing prayers, and willingness of others to engage authentically in the service of students.
I want to spend time updating you on our budget development for the 2023-2024 school year. Like many other districts across the state, we must make difficult decisions to reduce overall expenditures and reprioritize resources to align more closely with funding levels. An added challenge is the uncertainty caused by having to wait for the legislature to finalize budgets and bills. I’m optimistic there will be enhancements within the final budgets but also understand the importance of taking a measured, cautious approach to budget planning. We are currently forecasting a 2023-2024 budget shortfall of approximately $4.2 million. The main contributors are the loss of ESSER (COVID relief) dollars, staffing levels beyond those funded by the state through its prototypical funding model, inflationary increases, and rising compensation costs.
Leadership staff and I have been working over the past few months to identify potential areas of cost savings. It is incredibly difficult to consider reductions at a time when student needs are so great and service expectations understandably high. We’ll continue to navigate these difficult decisions with the assistance of our Budget Development Guiding Principles. Once the State Legislature adopts a budget at the conclusion of the current session scheduled for April 23, I’ll be presenting a recommended 2023-2024 budget reduction plan to the Board of Directors at its April 27 meeting. Next year’s operating budget will not be adopted until August which will allow opportunity for community members to engage in the budget development process. A series of town hall-type meetings are scheduled for this spring with the May 8 session focused on school finance.
Every student, every day is an ambitious vision of tradition, pride, and excellence but one Lynden Schools is wholly committed to. We remain focused on our four areas of strategic priorities and look forward to engaging community stakeholders in aligning our programs to the hopes and dreams you have for our schools. Parents and guardians serving as the first and most important teacher in a young person’s life is the secret sauce for students to persevere, grow, and thrive. It isn’t always an easy journey but I’m confident the long-game results will be positive if our decisions and advocacy remain centered on the well-being of children.
In addition to the core academic programs taking place in our classrooms each day, students are participating in school and community clubs, activities, and athletics at levels like we’ve never seen before. The broader Lynden community understands the importance of nurturing interests and providing opportunities for connection. I want to thank ALL of the youth organizations and individuals who donate their time and compassion to invest in the development of others. The Lynden community is blessed greatly by the range of diverse options available to kids, and the Lynden School District is grateful for the opportunity to be a contributor to this highly valued community priority.
Wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful and bountiful spring season.
Lynden Schools Superintendent
Dec. 29, 2022:
Warm greetings to our staff, students, families and community members. The turning of the calendar provides me with the opportunity to reflect on the first part of the school year and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.
My first six months leading Lynden Schools have been professionally fulfilling and personally humbling. The single greatest reward is watching the quality and quantity of people committed to personal excellence while supporting others striving to do the same. We’ve generally replaced the unproductive energy associated with the divisiveness we witnessed over the past couple years with a collective resolve to focus on every kid, every day. There will always be diverse perspectives on how best to accomplish the mission of public education, but Lynden Schools, under my leadership, will continue to promote and pursue engagement among all stakeholders to increase the likelihood of our results meeting the needs of the families and the community we serve.
I’m proud of our students, staff members, school leaders, families and community partners. The time I spend in our schools, classrooms and attending activities reinforces a conclusion I’ve made over my 30 years in education: The most important influence on the development of students results from the cumulative interactions that happen between youth and the adults investing in their lives. The importance of parents, neighbors, coaches, bus drivers, instructional staff and all support staff cannot be overstated. If you find yourself in one, or many, of these roles, I hope you recognize the blessing of your responsibility, and on behalf of Lynden Schools, I extend our deepest gratitude.
Our buses are scheduled to roll again on January 3, 2023. Lynden Schools will continue to prioritize our four areas of focus in the new calendar year:
Our renewed energies for re-imagined and innovative programming will continue throughout 2023, particularly at the bookends of our PK-21 service model. Embedding a transitional kindergarten program (4-year-olds) within each of our comprehensive elementary schools is proving a powerful community service. At the other end of the spectrum, energy placed in pursuing and expanding pathways while preparing graduates for high-demand positions in the trades will continue.
I’m particularly excited about the three superintendent advisory groups— Community Connections, Facilities Planning and Student Advisory—and the willingness of community members, students and staff members serving on these teams.
Indications show that the early months of the new year will present us with a significant challenge related to budget planning for 2023-2024. Public schools are a result of state government and supported by budget decisions that come out of the legislature and governor’s office. There is a general sentiment among school superintendents that school budget planning for 2023-2024 will be difficult. I’m hopeful the state will recognize the responsibility to fully fund public education but also recognize the importance and responsibility of taking a measured, careful approach. I plan to provide more budget-focused messages in the months ahead, outlining factors contributing to the challenges, highlighting early projections from Olympia and noting decisions surrounding potential budget reprioritization.
Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a great start to the new year!
Lynden Schools Superintendent
Aug. 22, 2022:
We Are Glad You Are Here
Warmest of greetings to the students, families, and friends of Lynden Schools as we near the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. Like many of you, I am personally reconciling the shift from a summer mindset to one of great anticipation and opportunity. I’m a lover of almost all things associated with school and look forward to engaging with each of you as we begin the 2022-2023 journey together.
Schools and departments are busy preparing for the start of the year. Leaders and staff are prioritizing learning environments that are safe, welcoming, and centered on the academic and social-emotional learning needs of all students. I’ve spent 13 years as a student and 30 years as an educator with the Lynden School District and have never felt more strongly about the importance of public education and our community’s collective responsibility of developing in each of our students a strong knowledge base and ability to think critically. Our students in today’s world also require the development of adaptive skillsets, healthy mindsets focused on growth, and strategies to respectfully engage in human-to-human interactions that honor and dignify diverse perspectives of others.
There is also a commitment to work in partnership with parents who we believe are a child’s first and most important educators. I want to encourage our families to engage meaningfully with an understanding of the essentialness of the role they have in leveraging the experiences of students in our schools and programs. We serve over 3400 students from three years old to twenty-one, and although we can’t be everything for everyone at all times, we can partner and support each family navigating the ups and downs of life’s journey through our schools. If they have not already done so, schools will soon be sending out important start-up information; we expect parents to participate.
On behalf of the staff members from across all levels of our organization, I want to welcome you to our schools and let you know how glad we are that you will be joining us on September 1st!
Lynden Schools Superintendent