Snoqualmie Does NOT Get Its Own School Board Director Districts

In a plan unveiled today by SVSD, Snoqualmie’s population will now be divided into four parts and added to 4 of the 5 current school board director districts – instead of getting its own districts.   What does this mean?  It means pieces of Snoqualmie will now be part of the 3 current North Bend school board districts and 1 part will stay in the current Fall City/Snoqualmie district.  Each school board member is elected by all district registered voters.

In this fall’s school board elections,  if a Snoqualmie resident runs for a board position, they will need to unseat an incumbent.  This is not an impossible feat, but not the easiest either.  What is the impact for Fall City and North Bend?  It means the future could see Snoqualmie controlling the school board since its population is now part of 4/5 director districts.  In a school district with 3 distinct and diverse cities, shouldn’t each have representation by board members from their specific residential area?

During last year’s elementary school boundary change, school board members were driven through Snoqualmie Ridge to help them understand the neighborhoods and boundaries.  This was necessary because no current school board members live in Snoqualmie.  Thus making it hard to understand all the distinct Ridge neighborhoods.   Do North Bend and/or Fall City residents want decisions directly impacting their neighborhood made by representatives living 7 – 12 miles from that neighborhood – not to mention in a different city?

The reason for the school board redistricting was Snoqualmie’s rapid growth over the past 10 years.  State law requires redistricting to represent current census population data.  A new census was done last year.  Snoqualmie grew 396% in ten years – taking the title of Washington’s fastest growing city.  This population shift/change made redistricting necessary according to state law.  Snoqualmie is now as big as North Bend, which until this redistricting, had its own director districts.

These new proposed districts create the possibility of Snoqualmie controlling the school board and direction of this district.  If 4 Snoqualmie residents were to run and unseat incumbents, Snoqualmie school board representatives could essentially control the board.   Historically, Snoqualmie has very strong voter turnout.  This could be a reality.   Are North Bend and Fall City residents ready for this?

In a geographically large school district which incorporates 3 different cities, it seems the most fair and representative school board would be one guaranteed to represent each specific area/city.  At least that is my take on it.   Feel free to disagree.  Taking Snoqualmie’s population,  dividing it into 4 pieces and combining it with current districts does not appear to ensure this.  My Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood is now part of the North Bend Rattlesnake Lake director district.

A public meeting on the new school board director districts takes place Thursday, April 28th, at 6:45PM – prior to next week’s school board meeting.  The meeting is at the District Office located at 8001 Silva Ave SE in historic Snoqualmie.  To see Samammish Data System Redistrict Recommendation and supporting data click here:  director_realignment_recommendation-1.

Comments

  1. Great blog. An honest and interesting perspective. Here’s an alternate view that you might consider:

    To understand the implications of re-districting, one must first understand the purpose of having school board “districts” to begin with:

    • First, these Director Districts are not designed to mandate that the school board Director “represent” the students and residents within an individual district. Instead, these districts are legally required for equal distribution of the population of the greater district. The origin of consolidating school districts and creating Director districts occurred in the mid-1940’s. After consolidating the North Bend, Snoqualmie and Fall City School Districts into one (SVSD), the State mandated Director Districts be developed evenly by population – primarily to prevent all School Board members from residing within the same town (or in an extreme case – all within one household) potentially allowing undue influence on the decisions of the school (like purchasing school district property, for example…). The result was an even distribution of the board members, but allowed for anyone within that population base to run for the position.

    • Second, if the Director was designated to “represent” only their district, then the law would basically allow for only the voters in that district to vote on their Director. This is not the case. As we know, each school board position is voted on by ALL of the voters in the entire school district. The SVSD school board members work for ALL of us and for ALL of the children in the SVSD system, not just for the voters and kids in their own neighborhoods.

    To reiterate, school board Directors are not elected to primarily “represent” the community where they live. They are elected to represent all voters (and more importantly, all kids).

    The new boundaries do potentially provide much power to a single community – to the residents of Snoqualmie. With the new boundaries drawn, there is potential for up to four residents of Snoqualmie to run and, if elected, influence the school board. To this writer, it appears that the new re-districting effort not only does not deny Snoqualmie a seat, but rather potentially gives Snoqualmie four seats when re-elections come around.

    Take note – it is important to call out that this is not entirely different than has been the case over the last ten years. The residents of Snoqualmie have had potential for influence already. Over the last ten years, residents of Snoqualmie, including Snoqualmie Ridge, have had three Director Districts to participate from: Director Districts 2, 3 & 4 all have sections that include Snoqualmie residents.

    The fact that the current board doesn’t have a member who resides within Snoqualmie is simply a result of who ran and who was elected. Snoqualmie has been represented on the board through previous elections, right? Fact: anyone residing in Snoqualmie could have run for and been elecetd to the current school board.

    On one hand, there is potential for no residents of Snoqualmie to be on the board (assuming all incumbents get re-elected and nobody from Snoqualmie EVER wins again). On the other hand, there is potential for four seats to come from Snoqualmie. So what is the answer? Should we define the boundaries to perfectly match the city lines – thereby “locking in” a single Snoqualmie resident to the school board who “represents” the kids in Snoqualmie? Or should we allow any resident, from any neighborhood, touching all areas of the greater Snoqualmie community to raise their hand, get elected and go do good work for all our kids?

    Despite the question, it is clear to this writer that the residents of Snoqualmie have had and will continue to have ample opportunity to offer up school board Directors, should one (or more) choose to run. But, with the dedication and commitment our current board members have demonstrated to ALL students and residents, from all corners of our school district, this writer submits that residents of Snoqualmie is already VERY well represented.

    • Yes, Snoqualmie residents are well represented right now. But ask yourself, could they be represented better? By someone who understands the community a bit better because they too reside in it?

      I guess a better description of this resdistricting recommendation is that it denies Snoqualmie “guaranteed” representation. Guaranteed representation is what Fall City and North Bend have been afforded for the past 10 years. State law criteria seeks to keep compact areas and communities together – in my opinion in search of certain community representation.

      The exact reason you site for our director districts being first created could also be used as the reason Snoqualmie should not be able to capture 4 school district seats. “…primarily to prevent all School Board members from residing within the same town (or in an extreme case – all within one household) potentially allowing undue influence on the decisions of the school (like purchasing school district property, for example…) The result was an even distribution of the board members” I believe a 4 Snoqualmie member school board is unfair to the North Bend and Fall City communities -and not representative of the valley’s population.

      Sammamish Data states beginning with existing director districts is an accepted starting point for redistricting. But if those districts no longer represent the population centers/distribution then maybe a new starting point needs to be considered?

      I thank you for your response as I truly believe all opinions are good to hear and consider – even if in the end our opinions are still different.

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