Guest Blog: Snoqualmie Needs Voices on the School Board

This guest blog is by Carolyn Simpson, friend and education advocate.  She has been intently following the SVSD redistricting process.  I asked her to share her information and opinion.  For more information on the redistricting process you can contact Carolyn Simpson at simpsoncgs@yahoo.com.  Carolyn also writes her own blog found at http://snoqvalleystudentsuccess.blogspot.com/.

The time has come for a school board election this November with a primary in August.  Three of the five seats are up for re-election, but there could be even more this year.  Why?  It is due to the growth in Snoqualmie and new census data.

Part of the process this year is to re-draw the five school board director districts to reflect the new census.  Just think of a map of the whole Snoqualmie

Current Board Members, Student Representatives and Superintendent

Valley School District divided into 5 parts by population and by natural and community boundaries.   Currently, North Bend is represented by 3 directors and Fall City is represented by 2 directors, but, believe it or not, there is no Snoqualmie resident on the school board.  Snoqualmie currently shares a seat on the school board with part of Fall City. That seat has been occupied by Lake Alice residents for most of the last 20 years. The districts, which are supposed to be balanced by population, have not been redrawn for 10 years.  However, during this period, the population in Snoqualmie has rapidly grown, making us under-represented on the school board.

Director districts help to ensure that the school board is representative of the entire community.  Once the five districts are defined,  interested parties can run for the seat in the district where they live.  These districts must be drawn in compliance with state law (RCW29A.76.010) which requires that each piece has about the same number of residents, is compact and contiguous, coincides with natural boundaries and preserves existing communities.

The administration has hired a consulting firm to analyze the census data, the map of the district and to provide a recommendation for a new five-part map.  The unveiling of this plan on the district website is scheduled to happen tomorrow, Friday, April 22nd.  There will also be a public hearing on Thursday, April 28, at 6:45pm.

Snoqualmie residents, we need to pay particular attention here.  The inclusion of the public in this process is absolutely essential. The decision will be made by the current school board, each of whom risk losing their seat.  This is a decision that really requires public oversight, as it is human nature to protect the status quo.

I have worked with the census data, the school district boundaries, the natural and geographic boundaries and the communities within our district – all criteria of state law.  I believe that the end result should be 1 Fall City seat, 2 Snoqualmie seats, and 2 North Bend seats.  But I do have concerns about the school district’s contract.  The superintendent has asked this outside party to also consider how the current five districts are drawn.  Hmmm… that is not part of the state criteria, nor is it part of the school district’s own policy.  I believe that the new boundaries should be drawn independently of the current board seat maps and independently based upon the new population data and geographic, natural and community boundaries.  I also believe the previous five districts are not only outdated because of population, but did not have high correlation with some of the geographic and community criteria of state law.

Snoqualmie, like our other communities of Fall City and North Bend, needs fair representation on the school board.   If this is important to you, please follow the process on the district website and participate in the public hearing.

**  Opinions expressed in guest blog pieces are not necessarily those of Living Snoqualmie administration **

Comments

  1. These outside parties, including the Calm River demographics, are a waste of money. The numbers are easy to poke holes in. Aune simply fears losing control of the Board as he now has.

  2. When I read through the purpose of the district director boundaries, I believed it is to represent all of the kids in the school district, not one geographic area. Since EVERY SINGLE board member is elected by ALL residents of the school district, I don’t know why this is being presented as an “electoral” seat of sorts.

  3. I completely agree that the school board represents the entire district, but the law also provides and protects fair representation from communities. And, I believe fair representation and each community’s unique perspective is vital to good decision making. Here are some examples. In a group of five school board members, Fall City residents can take comfort because they have an assured seat from their community. Fall City residents have unique concerns reflective of their distance from the high school and the potential of a partially empty middle school. That voice on the school board is vital. What if it wasn’t there? Would representatives from Snoqualmie and North Bend be able to speak on those concerns? North Bend residents in the past have had to deal with extreme busing from Wilderness Rim to Fall City and today have valid concerns about growth and taxes. That voice on the school board that understands that community’s concern is vital as part of the discussion and decision making. Snoqualmie residents are burdened with continued growth, boundary changes, and busing issues. Directors who can speak on those concerns, in a fair representation based upon population, is important to protect on the school board. The law contemplates this fair representation and provides for residential districts for a reason, and I believe that the law is there to ensure that unique community perspectives are represented well.

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