Carolyn Simpson: Saying Goodbye and Thanks for Everything!

As the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board prepares for its upcoming election, long-serving member Carolyn Simpson has written a heartfelt letter to the community announcing her decision not to run again.

Having served on the board since 2011, Simpson reflects on her time in office and expresses gratitude for the opportunity to serve the community.

Snoqualmie Ridge parent of four SVSD former students, Danna McCall, commented on that service by saying, “Carolyn was one of the board members who advocated for many years to fully rebuild MSHS and getting the comprehensive bond on the ballot in 2015. She’s been an advocate for providing all students equal access to the courses needed to pursue their post high school plans. In my opinion, she was instrumental in raising the bar of expectations for our district that led to notable improvements in student outcomes during her 12-year tenure. She’s all about student outcomes and district accountability.”

In her letter, she shares her reasons for stepping down and offers words of encouragement to those who will continue the important work of the school district.

Thank you, Snoqualmie Valley.

It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve on the school board. Today, I am announcing that I have made the decision not to run for a fourth term. I am ready to embrace retirement at the end of this year.

Running for public office was never in my plans. I wasn’t a politician, nor was I an educator, but as a parent, I knew we absolutely must do better. So, I ran in 2011, and I won.

My intentions have always been to raise expectations for student learning, improve decision-making, and enhance accountability for student outcomes. Together, we have made very significant progress.

It was and is hard work. Our school board directors and administration disagreed (oh my, did we). Yet, we negotiated and developed compromises that resulted in huge improvements. Our board worked diligently to gather community input, learn from other districts across the nation and state, and identify innovative and effective solutions to focus our district more intently on student learning.

For the first time in school district history, we developed a vision, a mission, and a strategic plan to provide focus for everything we do. We pulled together our community to rebuild Mount Si High School with updated classrooms and better pathways to career and college learning. We enhanced how we attract, develop, and retain our highly effective staff. We broke down barriers to learning and improved math education and literacy. I am very proud to say that our students now graduate with significantly more options for post-secondary education, employment, and life skills.

You might ask yourself: what kind of experience would one need to run for and serve on the school board? I believe that you need significant passion for student education and a broad perspective (not just a focus on a hot topic). You will need that passion and perspective to balance an over $120 million budget while preserving manageable class sizes and effective educational programming.

Serving on the board is a selfless job. You will miss time with family, friends, and your own children’s activities. You will lose some privacy; you will be recognized locally. You will need thick skin and the ability to listen to all sides and make good decisions. You will understand quickly how important it is to work constructively with a team of five directors, plus the superintendent, to find compromise and effective solutions.

And, then, there is campaigning. All 29,000 SVSD voters (not just the director district you reside in) can vote for each school board member, resulting in the need for flyers, signs, a website, and lots of walking neighborhoods from North Bend to Redmond.

Our district is strong, our leadership team is exceptional, and our future is bright with a focus on continuous improvement. Seeing the graduates’ smiles, hearing gratitude from parents, staff, and students, and making a good effective change to enhance education are priceless rewards.

Information about school board elections and director districts here (I am in District 3 – most of the population is in part of Snoqualmie Ridge):

Says Melissa Johnson, Parent and President of SVSD Board of Directors, “Carolyn’s thoughtful, inclusive, community-minded voice has been an essential part of our district’s school board. In my time in the district and as a fellow board director, she has proved to be a dedicated leader time after time, extending her service beyond her direct board work to spend time and attention to relationship building with students, staff, parents, and vital community partners. Our district is so incredibly fortunate to have had a director like Carolyn, who at all times strived for student success while also understanding the need for district-community connections and fiscal responsibility. I can’t thank Carolyn enough for her time and dedication; to say she will be missed is an understatement. ”

Simpson will be enjoying her newly found free time when her term ends, on December 31st of this year, by indulging in various activities. These include traveling to new destinations with her husband of 36 years, spending quality time at her vacation home in Bend, and bonding with her family, including her kids, granddaughter, and granddogs.

She also plans to engage in recreational activities such as cooking, golfing, bicycling, skiing, paddle boarding, hiking, and swimming with friends and family. With her busy schedule of fun and adventure, she will surely enjoy a fulfilling retired life.

Thank you, Carolyn, for all you’ve done for the SVSD. We appreciate all you’ve done for the district and its children!

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  • As a likewise concerned parent dismayed by the low quality of our school district compared to the one I moved here from out of state, I volunteered time to campaign for Carolyn Simpson that helped lear to her successful election and re-elections. Her focus on school improvement is badly needed still, although I’m proud of her many accomplishments along with those few other directors who have made a positive change here during my 26 years of raising kids here. SVSD is now among the top three districts in WA in terms of academic outcomes, despite now being around the midpoint in the nation. I hope that progress can be carried on by Carolyn’s replacement in the future, and I hope that Carolyn will consider endorsing who she sees as a worthy successor during this next campaign.

    A school board director is essentially a volunteer role, and is one that a director should invest significant time in to properly serve those who elect them. I am fully retiring from business and moving soon to be closer to grandkids and family in North Carolina, one of the states whose educational system is superior to WA in most respects. So I understand Carolyn’s desire to retire and spend more time traveling and with her family, which in turn means doing the right thing to turn over the role to the next person who has the qualifications, traits, and time to serve this very important role.

    Carolyn, I appreciate you and what you’ve accomplished, and I know many others who feel the same. I wish you joy, health, and success in this next chapter of your life.!

  • Living Snoqualmie