One on One: School Board President Gives Inside Look at Candidates, April School Bond, Freshman Campus

Scott Hodgins is in the  home stretch of his tenure as a Snoqualmie Valley School Board member.

As he nears the end of his term, he agreed to sit down with me and talk about his four years serving on the school board – four years Hodginshighlighted by one passed levy; two failed school bonds; the closing of a middle school and the opening of a freshman campus; and a whole new school board dynamic marked by lots of debate on educational issues and the scope of the next school bond coming to voters in April 2014.

Needless to say, Scott’s time on the school board has been anything but boring.

Hodgins says he has three things to accomplish before his term ends on December 31st: (1) a resolution to improve Mount Si High School, (2) improved school board protocols and (3) a superintendent evaluation.

When asked who he supports in the upcoming school board election, Hodgins said he’s very supportive of Tavish MacLean who will be taking over for him in January.

As for the race between incumbent Marci Busby and challenger David Spring, he says both are very capable candidates, but feels as a sitting board member it would be inappropriate to publicly endorse one.  He feels a candidate should be elected based on their position on issues, knowledge and experience.

He did add, though, that he supports a candidate who supports bond option A and improving Mount Si High School.

“Option A” is the school bond currently being vetted by the board.  It would build a 6th elementary school and modernize and significantly expand Mount Si High School, making it large enough to both move the freshman campus to Mount Si and manage high school enrollment. Then the current freshman campus would be reinstated as a middle school (what Hodgins says the building is designed to be), which also solves the current middle school overcrowding issue.

For Hodgins, improving Mount Si has always been a goal.  He said in his nearly 20 years of school district volunteering that includes chairing a bond campaign (2003), serving on bond steering committees (2006) and serving as a board member (2009-2013), the district has always acknowledged Mount Si High School needed modernization, but that modernizing always got put on hold because of the pressing need to build new schools.

Hodgins says, “Mount Si High School needed help 18 years ago – and it still needs help.”  He wants the public to understand that.  Over the years, the 60-year old building has withstood numerous floods, but still isn’t fully flood-proofed. Hodgins also acknowledges high school learning space and educational needs have changed, but the building hasn’t.

Hodgins talked out how numerous Snoqualmie homes surrounding Mount Si are being raised and flood-proofed, wondering, wouldn’t we want the same for our high school?  A school he reminded me, that every student in our district, from Ames Lake to Snoqualmie Pass, is slated to attend.

When I asked if he feels the district administration’s perceived opposition to option A is a fight for the stand-alone Freshman Campus, he said he just doesn’t understand that perception. Hodgins said Superintendent Aune assured him he will support and work diligently to pass whatever bond the school board decides on.  Hodgins added that he personally asked Mr. Aune if he could build a new high school, would he still move 9th graders off campus, to which Aune said no, freshman would be at the high school in their own space.

Hodgins said he also doesn’t understand people who say not to proceed with option A because they want the district to “give the Freshman Campus a chance.” Hodgins says option A would NOT close the Freshman Campus. He says there is nothing to lose, only to gain, as the freshman campus (and its boosted curriculum) would just relocate to Mount Si High School, where it logistically and financially makes the most sense.

Once that happens, and Snoqualmie Middle School is reinstated, the high school capacity problem is finally solved – instead of pushing it down to the middle school level.

Hodgins said having the 9th graders back at Mount Si expands overall high school programming and education, saying with the current freshman campus location, 9th graders don’t have access to about 70 courses that they did last year.  He said bringing the freshman campus to Mount Si gives 9th graders “a full contingent of opportunities,” as well as expanding programming and course options for all 9-12th grade students.

He calls it a win-win for everyone.  Relocate the freshman campus to Mount Si, which eliminates the need for 20+ teachers to travel between the two campuses (for which they are paid an extra $1850/year); reduces new, complicated district-wide busing routes and costly bus shuttles between the high school campuses; increases programming for all high school students; solves the flooding problem; modernizes an aging building for today’s education – and does it all now because construction costs and interest rates will only increase the longer the district waits.

Hodgins says he doesn’t want to come back in 10 years and say, “I told you so.”

Does he think it will be an easy sell?  Probably not, unless the district and board fully educate the community about option A and help voters understand that this latest option is actually the cheapest solution in the long run – and solves capacity and educational needs across all Snoqualmie Valley grade levels for years to come.

Hodgins said he’s ready to get out there in the community and help voters understand.  If he cannot continue to serve on the board, he says he’s ready to again lead the first successful school construction bond campaign since 2003 – and hopes the new school board will let him.

 

Comments

  1. Anna sotelo says

    It’s difficult to know what the Freshman campus costs to run, because we have not seen that budget in almost a year!!!!!!

  2. Scott brings up an important point that 9th graders no longer have access to 70 courses that they would have if the FLC were located at the main high school. This is why I support the FLC being located at the main high school. Anna also brings up an important point. An isolated FLC has cost a huge amount of money. It is not merely paying more than 20 teachers to travel between the two schools. It is also millions of dollars spent on extra portables for our two remaining middle schools. And millions of dollars wasted by inefficient use of empty classrooms at the main high school. But the real cost of the isolated FLC is the closure of Snoqualmie Middle School which has forced hundreds of students from Snoqualmie Ridge to be bussed to schools far from their homes and caused severe disruptions of the Math, PE, Choir and Band classes (among others) at our two remaining middle schools. It is simply not wise or fair to harm hundreds of middle school students just to create an extremely expensive and isolated 9th grade campus. Regards, David Spring, Parent of a Twin Falls Middle School student and candidate for the Snoqualmie Valley School Board

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