Today was the grand opening for the school, attended by Governor Gregoire, Spokane Mayor Condon, Mead school district leaders and teachers, local business leaders, and us parents. Lots of speechifying and well-deserved words of praise from all the speakers for everyone involved in making Riverpoint Academy happen.
The last speaker was Dean Allen, Board President of Washington STEM and CEO of McKinstry. I enjoyed his frank talk of having a company with so many STEM jobs that has no problem finding employees but with the problem is that they're not necessarily from Washington State. Much of what he and the school district speakers talked about was partnering schools with businesses so the students would be more prepared for college and able to take on a career in a STEM-related field.
Then came the part that surprised me--asking for donations. One local Mead mom and dad who have a successful biomed-related business announced they were donating $25,000 for the third year in a row. Dan Butler, Mead School District Deputy Superintendent, and one of the key players in making Riverpoint Academy happen announced he was donating $5,000.
Back when we first talked to Dan and the Riverpoint Academy staff, I asked about funding for the school. I was assured the Mead School District had "enough funding to sustain this for the next five years". (bolding mine) But after seeing all the iPads with wireless and cellular service issued to each student--they contain the textbooks--and a mess of MacBooks on a cart, I have to wonder what "this" means. It's commendable for a person to give $5,000 to a cause he is personally and professionally vested in, but since he's in a position to know what funding the school needs, for me it begs the question--does the school need that $5,000 in order to function?
I'm also a little uneasy about businesses contributing money to a public school. Call me cynical, but in this day and age I see too many businesses/people giving money and expecting something in return.
I think this school is a great opportunity for Steph and the other 70+ students. So far she has had days where it was fun and energetic and days where she was swamped with homework. And she has yet to start her online German course and her EWU-taught math class. This will be an interesting year.