Snoqualmie Middle School Annexation – Stuck Between a Rock and A Hard Spot

It was fall 2010.  For a few years, SVSD enrollment was on an up-tick.  In 2007 and 2008, three separate bond attempts to add a second high school failed.  Mt. Si High School was still growing.  Enrollment numbers showed a large bubble of students beginning to enter middle school, mainly attributed to Snoqualmie’s population growth.  A committee formed to address the issue.  The task?  Find space to accommodate the incoming high school growth.   A fourth bond attempt for a second high school was off the table.  Voters rejected this three previous times.  An alternative?  Use nearby Snoqualmie Middle School as Mount Si’s Freshman Learning Center.  Capacity problem solved.

With a solution on the table and approved by the SVSD school board, a $53 million school bond was put on the February 2011 King County Election Ballot.   If approved, a replacement middle school would be built on Snoqualmie Ridge and SMS would go to the high school as a freshman campus.  Two weeks prior to the vote, debate erupted.  Enrollment numbers were called into question.  Yes, there was a bubble coming, but there was also a trend occurring at the high school.  Freshman classes starting with 400 kids were dwindling down to around 300 by senior year.  So although larger classes were entering MSHS, enrollment in higher grade levels was shrinking.  As a result, Mount Si enrollment was staying within capacity. Critics asked if enrollment needs still justified the 2013 annexation of Snoqualmie Middle School?

That February school bond failed by one vote.  There was weeks of drama, even a formal recount funded by parents.  The district decided to run the bond again in May, hoping to get that one needed vote.  The second bond attempt also failed, the victim of more (slower than expected) enrollment growth debate.  The issue now? How to proceed.  Snoqualmie Valley School District administration was on record stating it needed to annex SMS to add high school capacity and regardless of the bond outcome, Snoqualmie Middle School would become part of  Mount Si High School in 2013.

So here we sit.  What will the district do with SMS?  Should we assume it will become part of Mt. Si High School in 2013, as that is public record?  Some parents support the move and some do not.  Supporters love the idea of a Freshman Learning Center giving 9th graders their own space as they mature during that transitional first high school year.   Others oppose it, wondering about the logistics and impact on education.  Will kids still get the same class opportunities as freshman if they are on a separate campus – especially if they are taking year ahead courses.   Then there are those who have no opinion about a Freshman Learning Center.  They only see that the cited reason for annexing SMS, enrollment capacity needs,  no longer exists in 2013.

Moving forward without a replacement school for SMS doesn’t solve the capacity/growth issue.  It displaces it to the secondary school level by squeezing three middle schools into two.  It requires spending money on portables to fit 1,500 middle schools students into two schools with capacity for only 1,100 – 1,200.  Will the district spend money on those portables while some newly installed high school portables may sit empty?  Is this a wise financial decision during a time of tight budgets?  Why annex SMS and bus Snoqualmie kids to North Bend and Fall City for middle school if Mount Si is not at capacity?

This is a school board election year.  This is important information for valley voters.  Will the school board move forward with the 2013 annexation of Snoqualmie Middle School without a replacement building?  Is the ultimate decision to become a two middle school district again?  This summer, the  SVSD School Board decided it had time to study the issue – that the decision to annex wasn’t imminent right now.  School Board President Dan Popp said, “We all understand fully the potential impact of annexing SMS without a replacement building.”  He added,  “This is an opportunity for a patient review – and the need will hinge on a variety of factors, growth being a key one.”

What does that mean to the average voter?  It means the board is not saying yes or no at this time.  Will voters have an answer before the November 8th election?  Should they? The issue is complex, but whatever the final decision, it will happen during the winning candidate’s new term.

Comments

  1. Thanks for your well-written article. This is indeed a complex decision.

    This writer finds it interesting – the question of whether the incumbents need to, or even should state a formal yes or no position on this topic prior to the election.

    In reading the positions of the challengers to the school board positions, it is quite evident that they don’t support the annexation of SMS, mostly because they were not supporters of the new middle school on Snoqualmie Ridge to begin with.

    All three – Carolyn Simpson, Geoff Doy and Peggy Johnson most surely voted NO on the middle school bond. Carolyn Simpson publicly opposed the recount, attending the recount announcement event with the NO campaign leadership and speaking on their behalf. Geoff Doy says right on his website that he opposed the new Snoqualmie Middle School. On her website, Peggy Johnson says we should have an Elementary school instead of a Middle School. Of course they can each come up with an argument against annexation of SMS, because they didn’t want the new school built. It was their NO votes that defeated the bond for new school that so many of us in the Snoqualmie community wanted!

    The incumbents (current board members) have the right approach – to wait and see. You raise so many good questions that are unanswerable today – budgets reductions, new student enrollments, transportation costs, etc. There is no rush at the moment to make a decision for the 2013 school year – it is almost two years from now! Do we not have time to consider the options and see what happens? What if it means that we need to move the solution to 2014 or 2015? In that time, perhaps we can get the new middle school after all? To make a hasty decision now, by anyone, challanger or incumbent, for or against, when so many questions are still unclear would not only be premature, it would be a mistake.

    The board challengers are apparently satisfied to house our school children in portable classrooms, but this writer isn’t. And, as far as this writer can determine, none of the challengers are really coming up with alternate plans themsleves – they only say that annexing SMS is not the right idea. OK, so what is their alternative? They aren’t going to say what the solution is for future over-crowding (and yes, we will be overcrowded at some point, no doubt) becuse they don’t know. If you ask the challengers directly today, for their solutions for over-crowding in the future, I bet they would each say we should wait and see what happens…

    Gosh, that sounds a lot like what the current board is saying.

  2. What about the 147 new homes that are going in near Si View. Where are those students going to go? Last I heard Twin Falls was close to max. capacity. Are we going to bus them to CKMS?

    • True school supporter says

      Probably, thanks to Carolyn Simpson and the other two candidates voting NO on the recent bond to build a new Middle School.

  3. Another Snoqualmie Schools Supporter says

    Well written article. BUT don’t forget the decision to annex SMS was based on the long-term facilities plan. The creation of the Ninth Grade Learning Center was based on 2 years of work by the High School Education Program Study Committee (made up of experts, parents, teachers and community members). If one is stopped you stop the other. The plan is based both on capacity needs and academic improvement strategies. Putting this off changes the plans made to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at Mount Si and better engage students (reduce drop-out rates etc.).
    For Pete’s sake, we might not be at legal capacity, but every kid I talk to at the high school says its overcrowded. Have you ever been in an 8 passenger minivan with a 7 teenagers and their gear? It is not at capacity but it is uncomfortable. A different configuration might work better for a long trip – and high school is a long trip.
    Keep in mind, just because something might have some logistical barriers, doesn’t mean it cannot be overcome nor that it should not be entered into. If that were the case, some people would scrap special ed and not provide winter transportation for kids coming from the pass.They both have a cost associated with them and are logistically challenging. But both are legal requirements and both are the right thing to do.
    Thank heaven the facilities planning for the 2011 bond had a plan B, if the bond did not pass. The plan B is portables at our remaining middle schools. Not ideal, but already thought through. In 2007, the facilities committee left us with no plan B. Go back to the table, spend more time in committee. Starting over and scrapping talented people’s work and research should be discouraged. That would put a finished building in our reach in 6 years! Let’s not start over. Adjusting timelines is certainly an option..That is not poor planning, that is good management. We wouldn’t be in this mess if these challengers had voted yes in February – they were in the minority!

    • Thank you for your comments. I agree that starting over and seemingly scrapping talented people’s work should not be encouraged. On the flip side, what if the circumstances call for a fresh look? What if we do delay the annexation for two years. Could we come up with a new solution that could be implemented in 2015 – not 6 years – the same year the enrollment data shows the annexation might be needed? I don’t know that answer, but is it at least worth considering? I believe adjusting timelines is also good planning. If the enrollment slow down grants us the opportunity to consider fresh approaches I feel its a great opportunity. I would be okay with my daughter bussed to CKMS. It’s a great school and she would be back with all her closest friends. My oldest was bussed there for three years. I have nothing against this approach if that’s going to be it. Many Snoqualmie parents just want to know – is the two middle school scenario the final approach. Will the district try again to build a middle school on Snoqualmie Ridge or will it sell that land off? Many parents I spoke to yesterday were happy to know the district is taking the time to study this annexation more. I believe many of them hope our district might eventually find a solution that keeps their children in Snoqualmie for middle school. Because of this, it is an important topic for Snoqualmie families. So knowing where the candidates stand becomes important information for some. If studying the issue means we are delaying the annexation, then Snoqualmie voters want to know, as it could influence how they vote. And yes, the challengers were in the bond result minority, but does that mean their opinions are less valuable? Couldn’t we learn by examining why people voted no so we can get that needed 60% if there is to be a next school bond? Thousands of valley residents voted no. Personally I don’t want to play the blame game. I feel we need to move forward instead of focusing on what could have been.

  4. I am one of the Valley’s most ardent and passionate supporters when new buildings are needed and voter support must be rallied. My volunteer and committee work over the years has proven so. But we must ensure, before we go to the voters, that we have used solid facts and reasonable assumptions to determine building needs. The plan to use the SMS building as additional high school capacity because of high school overcrowding was based upon enrollment growth projections that are not being realized. Today’s high school enrollment is about the same as it was in 2007 and 2008, and it appears to have not grown much, if at all, from last year. We have room for at least 300 more high school students. That growth does not appear to be imminent, and high school overcrowding may not be an issue for many years. We must take a new look at the high school capacity and enrollment projections using strong facts and reasonable assumptions before making any building need decisions, such as asking taxpayers for over $50 million of funding for a new school or before crowding 1,500 middle school students into two buildings that only have room for 1,100 to 1,200 students.

    Currently, teachers and administrators are spending valuable time meeting and planning how to create a freshman campus in the SMS building. I applaud the efforts to focus on freshman issues as well as STEM type learning, but we don’t need to have a separate building to do so. I encourage the school board to finally acknowledge the current enrollment situation and allow these teachers and administrators to spend their valuable time in the classrooms today, not continuing to spend time planning for a move that does not appear to be necessary or imminent.

    I also believe we need to take a look at the current enrollment, projections and building needs for our elementary students.

    Danna, thank you for your informative and interactive blog. It is invigorating to have a community which is engaged in conversation about education and community issues. I encourage those who comment on your blog to leave their names, not hide behind a creative title.

    • I would like to hear more about STEM and offering more science, technology, engineering and math at our high school as well as our middle schools. Specifically HOW does a new campus vs a 9th grade campus impact offering STEM classes at our middles schools and high school? Perhaps somebody could spell it out in terms of math paths, science paths, and engineering paths??!! That is just music to my ears!

  5. This writer wants to move forward, too, Ms. McCall – not focusing on what could have been, but rather fearful of what might be. It’s not about blame, it’s about leadership. You’re correct that thousands of residents voted no on the bond. But what you’re overlooking is the fact that only three of the NO voters are running for School Board…

    Yes, we should be looking forward:

    — Do we look forward to School Board members who vote NO for schools (all three challengers)?

    — Speaking of wasting districty money, do we want School Board members who cost the district tens of thousands of dollars ($$) in legal fees by filing frivolent review petitions (Carolyn Simpson)?

    — Do we look forward to School Board members who side with commercial, profit-taking developers who don’t want to pay Impact Fees and are costing our school district Millions of Dollars in needed facilities capital – a decision the City of Snoqualmie made in support of developers that has already cost the school district over $600,000 so far in 2011 alone (Carolyn Simpson. others challengers?)?

    This writer chooses to hide behind a “creative title” for anonymity, but speaks the truth. In some respects, the board challengers are doing the same, hiding behind rhetoric and not discosing the many actions they have already taken that hurt our schools in Snoqualmie.

    Looking forward? These are not the sort of Board Directors this writer wants to have making important financial decisions for our schools in the future.

    When it comes to SMS annexation, thank you Carolyn Simpson, for proving this writer’s earlier point so beautifully. Apparently, you too want to take a “Wait and See” approach – as your reply states so clearly:

    — Ms. Simpson says, “We must take a new look at the high school capacity and enrollment projections using strong facts and reasonable assumptions before making any building need decisions…”.

    Gosh, isn’t it ironic that Ms. Simpson is practically quoting what the current school board has been saying for months?

    • Creative Title says

      Snoqualmie Supporter,

      What Is the review petition? Tens of thousands, are you sure of that – that seems far fetched?

    • Maybe our approach, or how we see some things is just different – and that’s okay. People voted no on a school bond to construct a building. Is that saying they don’t support education? I don’t think so, but respect the fact that it’s an individual judgement call. I am sorry you feel fearful of what might be. I like to believe that some of the best decisions come through debate, hearing different all sides of an issue. I think it’s a backbone of good leadership and decision making. You have every right to your feelings and reasons, and to vote based on them. I will ask Ms. Simpson to respond to couple of your assertions…. as I don’t have all the answers… except to say I know that she does NOT side with developers. She is not involved in this impact fee issue. It is between SVSD administration and the city of Snoqualmie. I would suggest contacting Mayor Larson if you have questions regarding impact fees. Thanks, Danna

  6. One of the above statements you made is not quite accurate. The current school board did not indicate that we must take a look and see approach until recently. Prior to the bonds defeat, they seemed fairly set in their plan to annex SMS regardless of the bond decision. It was not until after the 2nd bonds failure, that they starting indicating they would take a “look and see” approach. I happened to be present at the school board meeting where this topic came up (about a month after the second bond). Ironically, it is the same approach that some of the “challengers” had taken during the bond election. So, it appears that both the challengers and the current school board now all agree that time should be spent “waiting and seeing” how enrollment projections progress before a decision is made to annex SMS. Personally, I feel this is a good approach. I would hate to see us revert to a 2 middle school district, when it was not that long ago we approved the bond for TFMS and agreed a three middle school district was the best approach for our kids. I have no problem with annexing SMS, provided we have a place to adequately place the kids that will be displaced. TFMS is either at or near capacity, and CKMS is creeping up in numbers. Why annex a school and move overcrowding elsewhere (in this case, the middle school level). Let’s see what the next set of projections indicates, and make some calculated decisision that information.

  7. For some reason my computer screen keeps skipping backward on me. The last line above should read, “Let’s see what the next set of projections indicate, and make some calculated decisions from that information–one that will benefit all the kids (High School and Middle) and will result in a more successful bond for a replacement school. (BTW, Snoqualmie precincts voted overwhelming in favor of the bond (both times). I don’t think that an assumption should be made as to how all three challengers voted, nor do I feel that anyone in favor of the bond to begin with would have changed their minds due to any expressed opinions. People typically have their minds made up and it is difficult to change or sway votes when they do. I certainly have never asked anyone how they voted. For all I know, they could have all voted “yes” even if they had their doubts. I do not think anyone running for school board would make any decision to impeded new school construction in light of the fact they all were under the assumption that SMS would be annexed even if the bond failed. I am glad we are taking a fresh look at this issue. Perhaps we can come up with a well marketed bond that gets 100% approval the next time.)

  8. “Snoqualmie Schools Supporter”, you’ve loosely thrown out some misleading or outright incorrect information in your statements. First, there has been NO discussoin or indication yet that our incumbent school board directors are revisiting, or even planning on revisiting, their decison to proceed with annexation of SMS into MSHS, closing it as a MS and going from 3 middle schools with ample capacity today to 2 over-crowded middle schools. I attend nearly every single board meeting and the closest I’ve heard them come to my ardent wish that they would revisit their decision is about 3 meetings ago when Scott Hudgins suggested that they should revisit it, at least after the new enrollment count came in September, but there was NO agreement from the rest of the board directors to do this. Listen to the podcast, which is available for download. IF there had been such an agreement to revisit that decision, I would have been all over that as I have been quite public with my statements about how ill-advised that plan is and how hopeful I am that the incumbent directors would change their minds…ie, that would be fabulous news, especailly if they actually followed through and stopped the madness.

    To the contrary, what is clearly on the record of the school board is the very passioned pledge to proceed forward with their plan of going from 3 to 2 middle schools, which occured shortly after the second bond failure during a regular board of directors meeting.

    Thus, we have NO evidence that the sbhool board has discussed changing their minds on this plan, plenty that indicates that they have not. IF they announce a decision to change their plan without publicly-aired debate beforehand, then that strongly implies that there has been private discussion about that among the incumbent directors in violation of the WA Open Meetings Act. Anyone who has been involved in major decisions of this type (and I have in the business and non-profit worlds) knows that a board needs time and opportunity to discuss such matters in order to make sound decisions and minimize risks, therefore I cannot imagine that our school board would suddenly pop such a decision upon the public without such discussion. Unless, of course, they have had illegal discussions about it already, which is entirely possible given past comments made by our directors indicating such (most recently in the candidate forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in which Craig Husa commented that they had discussions to work out decisions before voting on them in public board meetings).

    However, let’s assume for the moment that our incumbent directors have abided by the law and have been public with all debate and discussion about this matter. That means that we are presently far from a decision to delay the SMS annexation, as it will take at least a few more board meetings with appropriate information to come up with the basis to justify them changing their position.

    Another of your comments that caught my eye is your claim that the failure of the recent bond elections were due to SImpson, Doy, and Johnson’s NO votes. That’s childish and misleading, as there were many other people voting NO. Plus they were not the only ones leading a NO Campaign. I was also doing that, primarily in the North Bend area. There are at least a dozen other leading community influencers who were proactive at getting people informed of the facts about that bond, and the bond did not fail because of a single one of their personal votes.

    There is no over-crowding at MSHS, and there will not be for years. September enrollment numbers are in, and they are almost exactly in line with the enrollment forecast that our expert citizen’s community developed last spring, while significantly under the SVSD enrollment forecast that they paid at least one teacher’s compensation to a contractor outside our district and largely unfamiliar with us ( “1 Teacher Unit”) (this was discussed at a recent school board meeting). Kids saying it’s crowded is like 747 airline passengers saying a 737 is crowded on their next flight. Our kids are coming from middle schools that are roomier to a high school that is roomier than the one I graduated from.

  9. Dear Anonymous Posters,

    As I read through some of the comments on this blog, I have to admit I am somewhat saddened. We spend a great deal of time teaching our kids respect, tolerance and acceptance of others. This goes further than just accepting ones gender, appearance, political persuasion, etc. It should also be relevant to ones position or opinion on any matter. Afterall, some of the best decisions ever made come out of differences of opinions. However, the only way that these great decisions come to light, is if everyone is respectful and listens to each person’s opinion and, more importantly, bases those opinions on hard facts.

    I do not think that anyone on this blog can honestly say they really know how any one person voted on any particular matter. I think it is unfair to make such assumptions and to tarnish anyone’s reputation over such a matter that is not based on facts. Yes, there were some who questioned the accuracy of the projections that the bond was based on. However, in the end, it was very apparent that the Snoqualmie precincts overwhelmingly voted in support of the new middle school, yet other precincts did not. A review of the election results would further support these facts. I do not feel it fair to use someone’s questions over projection data as a blanket statement that they do not support school construction. On the contrary, I believe that all the individuals addressed in these blog posts are ardent supporters of new school construction. What they may be, however, are voters who want to ensure the decisions we make today are based on solid information and are, therefore, warranted. That does not make anyone against school construction. I feel it make them informed fact seekers. Is that really such a horrible thing?

    With regard to the redistricting case. I feel that I can make some very factual statements regarding this case, seeing that I am also a party to the same. First and foremost, this is NOT a lawsuit. Under WA statute, any registered voter can file a Motion to Review a redistricting decision with their applicable Superior Court. Ms. Simpson and I agreed to file this motion to have a judge review the redistricting plan to ensure it was compliant with state mandated redistricting criteria. Our concerns regarding the plan had to do with the lack of an assured Snoqualmie school board seat. As it stands, there is no way a Snoqualmie candidate can run against another Snoqualmie candidate during this election. Snoqualmie is divided in a very odd manner and one portion of it is merged with the Lake Alice/Fall City area. Therefore, should a Lake Alice/Fall City candidate opt to run (which in this case, this individual is the current incumbent), they would have to run against another Lake Alice/Fall City candidate or a candidate from a portion of Snoqualmie. This is not the case for other districts. Currently, North Bend has three districts that would require North Bend candidates to run against North Bend candidates. Fall City has one assured seat, and Snoqualmie has a split seat. With the population growth of Snoqualmie making it representative of over 1/3 of the District community, it only seemed right to realign the districts so that we would have 2 pure North Bend districts, one pure Fall City District, one pure Snoqualmie District, and, given the population numbers one Snoqualmie district that would either have to merge a small portion of North Bend or Fall City to make the population distribution even. This did not occur within the district’s plan. Also, we felt there were some very odd lines drawn to create the new districts. Take, for example, the street I live on. I live in a looped cul-de-sac of 41 homes. Under the district’s plan, about 8-10 of these homes are in one district, and the other homes are in another. Given the fact that district boundaries that define who can run for what seats are supposed to be based on geographical boundaries and should not break up existing communities, it seems odd that my neighborhood was broken up in order to form a district. My neighborhood is not the only instance of such odd lines.

    So, to sum this up, we asked a judge to review the adopted plan. It cost us a total of $230 to file and we have not (nor do we plan to) hire an attorney to represent us. Therefore, I am uncertain why attorney fees are being expended by the District to defend this motion. In our minds we just want the plan reviewed. We are not alone in this case either. During the redistricting process, 300 other Snoqualmie residents felt the same way, as did others who made their opinions known to the board. Our case is odd, given the fact that it does not fall within the ordinary classification of anything typically brought before a civil judge. Our case was filed under WA State law that allows citizens in an affected area to seek a review. We were actually surprised we had to pay to have filing fee for such a review. But, in order to ensure we did it properly, the Clerk of Court thought we should file our case under a category referred to as “Other” and this was the requisite fee.

    We have received, to date, 4 letters from the District’s attorney. We have responded to three. One letter did not require a response, as it was just a notice advising us of the attorney’s vacation plans. We had no idea that an attorney would be retained to defend the plan. In fact, we are somewhat perplexed and wonder if it is even necessary. Perhaps it is, but I also feel that any school board member or district representative could easily respond to any questions the Judge may have. So, as far as fees are concerned, I would ask that you request such info from the district. Seeing that I am a party to this review, I do not feel I should.

    I hope that this helped provide posters with some relevant information on which you can base your opinions. I also hope that you understand that it is okay to challenge decisions, as long as it is respectful and your are receptive to another point of view. Debates should be intelligent and should be honest and factual. I want to ensure my kids learn this firsthand from me, as I feel that acceptance, respect and tolerance transcend far beyond what a person looks like.

    I would be more than happy to sit down with the anonymous posters and answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding anything I have written. I am more than happy to listen to your stance and learn from it. Perhaps, you may actually change my mind. However, I have a hard time listening to some of this information considering that we are in the midst of a campaign that addresses education and our kids. I do not feel that disparaging comments serve a place in a school board election. Maybe they do in Washington right now, but not in our Valley and certainly not when the stakes involve our kids and our community. We are all in this for the long haul. Let’s not make this a mud-slinging contest. Let’s base our votes on facts and be informed voters. We owe that to our kids and to each other.

  10. I did forget to touch on the impact fee issue. The impact fee issue is between the district, incumbent school board and the City of Snoqualmie. If you are of the assumption that because someone resides in Snoqualmie they are somehow involved in this issue, they are not. It is my understanding that the city, school board and district have been in discussions regarding this topic for some time. No challenger is involved, and has no reason to be involved unless they become elected and the issue is still ongoing at the time they officially take their seat. It is a matter of the current board, the district and the City. It is unfortunate that this topic has become part of the political debate during this campaign. It does not appear to be bringing any type of unity between the citizens of the district. In fact, it seems to have created some divisiveness between those who “have paid” and those “who have not.” I believe the best way to gather info on this topic, is to request information from city officials and current incumbents. They are the ones who are responsible for bringing this matter to some form of resolution. As for the residents of Snoqualmie, they are not involved in this “dispute” and have no reason to be involved. The district sets the impact fee level and the City is to agree to collect it. Last I checked, no challenger is an employee of the district, is currently a school board member, or a city official. Obviously, this issue is probably much bigger and runs much deeper than the average citizen would have any reason to know. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, please know that most everyone is really in the dark regarding all the facts surrounding this topic. It should not be a matter for a political campaign. Time would be much better spent resolving the issue, than making this a legitimate topic for this campaign.

    • Snoqualmie Mom says

      Laurie,
      I will not be public with my name, the reason will seem like bashing –so I will not say. It is a blog – anonymity is part of the game.
      However, I am going to try to say this in a manner which is appropriate to the “rules” of engagement here.
      Your comment:
      “If you are of the assumption that because someone resides in Snoqualmie they are somehow involved in this issue, they are not.”
      I live in Snoqualmie, surely you are not implying that someone should not question city policies if I see a problem in it? I am most definitely involved, these people to represent me. Further, if this money is not being collected it will be passed on in taxes through bonds and levies. I most certainly am involved and should speak up.
      “Obviously, this issue is probably much bigger and runs much deeper than the average citizen would have any reason to know. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, please know that most everyone is really in the dark regarding all the facts surrounding this topic.”
      Are you suggesting that local residents are can’t figure this out since it is so complicated? That if sent to the right resources they cannot read up and that they cannot operate goggle to research further? I think people, if alerted to an issue, can figure it out.
      “No challenger is involved, and has no reason to be involved unless they become elected and the issue is still ongoing at the time they officially take their seat. It is a matter of the current board, the district and the City. It is unfortunate that this topic has become part of the political debate during this campaign.”
      It appears you are saying that on one side that is up to school board members to negotiate this, but we should not know how candidates for the school board will pursue this? This has been on the table for over a year, the next board will certainly need to figure out how they will need to maneuver this, if at all. This is an issue.
      At least one candidate (Ms. Simpson) has on their website that they want to include the builders in this decision and find consensus. That is not the law and that is not letting it be between the city and the schools. The law is the city assessing the calculated impact fee – period not reducing it. I think this is part of discerning which candidate will work best. Someone else might want the developer to help determine what they want to pay, I do not. So we should both know how the potential school board member might weigh this decision.
      As you just questioned school policy (redistricting) on a complicated subject, I guess, I would be surprised if you realized that your argument was a bit inconsistent. And I think I read that the redistricting petition committee influenced the city to oppose the proposal. With your argument, this might not have been their business.
      A grab your torch and pitchfork model of influencing decision making is not an American standard for pressuring government decisions. It has happened but is not the standard. The right to petition IS our standard, and it is protected and a standard for documenting opinion for groups. I signed the petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-snoqualmie-be-fair-and-align-school-impact-fees
      As for this comment:
      “Perhaps it is, but I also feel that any school board member or district representative could easily respond to any questions the Judge may have.”
      I would NEVER recommend our school board or city government ever cook up any legal response, population estimates, etc. on their own, not one paper, not one sentence. The price of an error is far too high, they are held to a high standard – might even be laws on it. Documenting due diligence and real experts is essential. They need to pay the fees at market rate (if you get someone pro bono you are at the bottom on the pile for service). You as a private citizen and plantiff might have the luxury of a quick turn-around, anyone in the public sector and defending themselves, does not.
      I hope I did not offend.

      • Although I am not involved in the impact fee situation, I have observed several school board meetings during which this issue is discussed. It sounds like the builders and the city have questions and concerns about assumptions used in the calculation regarding enrollment projections and the timing of the need for additional school buildings. It sounds like the school district has concerns that the fees being collected are too low and based upon old plans. It is time to resolve those questions and concerns. If I were on the school board, I would sit down with the appropriate representatives from the city and the builders and work together to answer their questions and find agreement and consensus. The sooner this is resolved, the better for our schools.

      • Laurie Gibbs says

        Dear Anonymous,
        Thanks for your comments. No, you did not offend me. I am sorry you feel that revealing your identity would be construed as “bashing’, but you are entitled to your opinion on this matter and I will respectfully acknowledge your feelings.

        Rather than get into a huge response here, I believe there is more to every story than what is being reflected in everyone’s posts. Some of us have more background information regarding some of the topics, seeing that we have been directly involved in them. For example, redistricitng is something I have volumes of information on and was very much involved with throughout the entire process. Impact fees, on the other hand, is something I have second hand knowledge of and, given the fact I am not involved in any discussions regarding the matter, I can only report what I have seen and have directly observed. I am not going to report conjecture or hearsay, because I have found most of it to be more complex than what I have overheard. Suffice it to say, I agree with you and believe everyone should become as knowledgeable as possible regarding this matter. I also would implore everyone to research the matter in greater detail. I believe you will find many districts and cities who have brought the builders into impact fee discussions and have resolved these issues successfully. Kirkland, for example, recently did this. I also believe that litigation regarding impact fees is a big problem. A quick google search will reveal many cases regarding this. I also know that Snoqualmie may not be the only city who is questioning impact fees. Rather than get into this information, I feel that you will be hearing about this in the near future.

        As I mentioned before, I respect your need to remain anonymous. However, I would be more than happy to provide you with information regarding the redistricting motion (and the reasons for the same) if you would like to contact me under your alias to discuss this further. I would be happy to send you my contact information, if you respond back in the affirmative. I would prefer to do so off line, so I do not get flooded with inquiries. Also, you must know who I am, and I hope you would be willing to sit down and talk too. I think you would find me to be rather approachable, and open to talk about any of this–regardless of any past history you feel we may have.

        I have also opted to remove myself from this thread after this post, given I do not feel it is productive. If you are interested in learning more about redistricting or impact fee issues, I would be more than happy to meet with you, talk with you, or point you in the right direction to get more information regarding these topics. As it stands, I feel we are going to go back and forth writing and my fingers are getting tired! 🙂 If you want my contact info, please let me know where I can send it.

  11. Yes, I agree that opposing SMS annexation is a related logical outcome of opposing the proposed new middle school…because of the dire consequences of over-crowding 2 middle schools at this time. The challenging candidates recognize this, as does a growing number of voters. It simply doesn’t make good sense to press forward with annexation of SMS into MSHS without solid justification and a clear plan on how both students’ needs can be maintained & improved in middle school and increased operating costs can be avoided that translate into fewer teachers. Buying more new portables for the middle schools does not offset increased transportation and other operating costs. Increased school size has been amply demonstrated in multiple studies to have a detrimental affect on academic outcomes, so moving to 2 “mega-middle schools” from 3 middles schools that today can hardly be called “small schools” is counter to the science. Plus, the basis for that annexaton originally put forth by the SVSD administration and school board has shown to be inaccurate and invalid: MSHS exceeding capacity by 2013. So why else would we “need” to have SMS converted into a freshman campus?

    I am not aware of any opposition by any of the challenging candidates to the *concept* of a separate freshman campus per se. Just haven’t heard/read anything from them on that. I personally am on the fence about the concept, as the few studies I’ve been able to find are inconclusive…ie, there are both advantages and disadvantages to the freshman-only campus model. Altho the studies suggest (not prove) that those freshman campuses that are large in size perhaps do better because they typically wind up in heavily populated districts that have funding to allow for music, AP, and a wider choice of programs that emulate larger high schools; but that’s not us, folks. There are no clear links demonstrated between any student factors (eg demographics, geographics, psychographics, etc) that show if it’s better for our school district (which in turn implies that we have studied our student factors, which of course we haven’t). In addition, there is no SVSD plan that addresses how freshman will be transported between periods to/fro the main MSHS for such mushc, AP, and other programs that are not offered at the freshman campus, nor how much it costs and how it would be funded. Remember, SVSD has NO strategic plan, which is something that all 3 challenging candidates pledge to see developed if elected.

    Regardless, I have witnessed a substantial group of mainly MSHS teachers and staff who are clearly enamored with the concept of a freshman campus, and have faith that it is a good thing despite any solid support from studies. It just seems to feel right to them. In my view, that’s okay and worth consideraton IF it weren’t for the following questions:
    (1) is a freshman campus a “want” or a “need”?
    (2) can our budget afford it, especially in light of other priorities (most importantly, teachers)?
    (3) which is more important to fund: competitive sports, or a freshman campus?
    (4) which is more important to fund: maintaining or reducing student-to-teacher ratios (aka “class size”) or a freshman campus? (please note: Issaquah School District’s plan has for several years proritized reducing class sizes, which I believe is why their student academic outcomes are so much better than SVSD’s)
    (5) which is more important to fund: building and operating another elementary school (which will be needed most on the Ridge) when we really need it in a few years, or a freshman campus?
    (6) which is more important to fund: building and operating a new middle school sometime in the next 7 – 10 years, or a freshman campus?
    You get the picture I hope…I could go on and on about priorities, but what we really need first before charging off and doing what appears to many voters as whacky things is a well-thought out strategic plan for SVSD.

    I’ve spent nearly 3 decades of my business career involved in strategic planning for start-ups to $500M annual revenue organizations. It is simply appalling to witness how SVSD continues to stumble around flying by the seat of their pants, trying this and trying that to see what sticks, taking huge risks and in the end not getting the maximum return on investment in our kids that they should be getting. And that, fellow voters, is because our school board directors and the administration they have hired/contracted are NOT business-minded, lacking the needed skills, experience, and knowledge to efficiently run a $55M operation (SVSD). Our administrators are teachers that were provided next to no business or management training in college but who worked their way up the ladder as they taught in school systems (“Peter Principal”, if you know what I mean). They surive by convincing enough voters to give them more money to cover there mistakes, try to cover those mistakes, and filter what they provide to a school board that is not skilled at asking the hard questions. We need more competent leaders on our school board and administration who know how to reserach, develop and acquire accurate data to base decisions on, how to move through a good strategic planning process, how to involve our community in the process and tap into the expert volunteers that are there, how to be fullly transparent, truthful, and open about both problems and successes in order to regain public trust and confidence, how to communicate a final plan to all stakeholders in the community and within theri staff, and then how to change and adapt that plan in reaction to environmental changes over time.

    Geoff Doy is a kindred spirit to me in that regard, as he, too, is deeply experienced in strategic planning for organizations much larger than our $55M SVSD operation and knows how much better SVSD could be performing if it only had a sound plan. We parents, teachers, taxpayers have been getting essentially short-changed on the money our school board and administration spends, and in an economy where SVSD revenues are going down as a result of WA state funding cuts. Carolyn Simpson is a seasoned financial and business operations auditor,formerly with the international Ernst & Young consulting firm which is well know throughout the Fortune 1000 community; she has the passion for planning, detail, and accounting that complements Geoff Doy and Peggy Johnson. Peggy Johnson has accumulated an amazing amount of knowledge and experience dealing with our state educational system via her exceptional skills and tenaciousness, driving important legislation that passed this last year dealing wiht student safety in our schools, and so she brings a student-centric perpective that reflects our district and that is both different from the other candidates and complementary to Geoff and Carolyn. I see them as the Winds of Change that we so badly need to bring a fresh new atmosphere to our school board. This is NOT a “change for change sake” situation; it is a long over-due change for the better situation.

    Sorry if I seem a bit round-about, but now is not the time to be annexing SMS into MSHS and consequently creating more problems within our middle schools and district budget. Everyone knows that there WILL come a time when we’ll need more capacity in our high school (ideally a second HS), our middle schools, and likely first our elementary schools. Remember, it takes a super-majority to pass a school construction bond; it does no good to comiserate about that here, it would be much better to see a convincing plan and construction bond bond presented that will gain the super-majority of voters to pass. Of course, that is challenging in a down economy, but I’m optimistic that our parents, teachers, taxpayers, and other residents prioritize kids’ education high enough that they’ll be willing to pay for it IF it makes compelling sense. We cannot afford to continue throwing poorly prepared bonds out there in front of voters that don’t make sense to the number of voters that are able vote it down.

  12. Great to see Mrs. Simpson active on this blog. Three questions for you Mrs. Simpson. And please, a very succinct answer. I do not wish to debate on this blog – or have to sift through the pages and pages of rhetoric that your buddies Laurie and Mr. Kangas appear to follow up all of your responses with. I simply want to know where you stand so that I can be an informed voter. Please don’t confuse the issue with potential missinformation, assumptions, and by throwing out all kinds of numbers to explain and justify your position. Please just tell me your position – I can figure out on my own if the position makes sense to me.

    1) Do you think the school board should agree to the City’s demand for an additional discount for the developers on the impact fee (on a fee that is already a minscule amount of the actual cost to provide schools to the kids their homes create)? I know you say above that you think people should meet and discuss, but you don’t say what you think that solution should be. The administration and board have been meeting and discussing this with the City for over a year, so what would be your solution as a board member? I listened to a board meeting where you stated during public comment that the School should compromise with the City and reduce the fee by 1/3. Are you still of that opinion that the School Board should NOT request the developers to pay their fair share? If so, can you tell me how that position represents the best interest of the kids you will represent on the board (and their parents, too)?

    2) Since you were openly against the recent bond, and now you are apparently against a 9th grade campus and the consequences of not getting a bond to pass, what solution would you suggest for when the High School is even more overcrowded than it is currently? Seems like just a few years ago, you were spearheading the campaign for a second High School. Should I assume that you still think this is the right solution? I ask this question because you are now saying that the High School has plenty of room. IF that’s the case, how are we ever going to have enough students in the valley to merit a second High School? Do you think we should expand our current High School (which the Capital Facilities Study Committee found is exponentially more expensive and disruptive than building a replacement middle school). I personally view the 9th grade campus as a genius idea to help our 9th graders successfully transition in the High School and become even more successful students. One of your main agendas is student improvement. Can you explain why you think the 9th grade campus would not have a positive impact in that area? I know you’ve said in many places that we should wait and see. But you’ve also said that the District needs better plans, plans for the long term, foresight that will help improve success of the kids. So what would your plan be? Specifics please. Short and Sweet.

    3) I would like to know why you are appealing the director district boundary decision made by the board. Unfortunately, you did not get your way to have a district created where you could run unopposed. But you are still running and can still represent your neighbors in Snoqualmie. From what I understand, the appeal that you have filed won’t be heard until Jan or Feb of next year – which is well after the election, and if you win the appeal, the elected official will be allowed to serve out their term. So why have the District incur significant legal costs on an issue that will have no impact on who sits on the Board for the next 4 years? I worry that this is an example that the previous commentator stated: that you are just trying to prove that you were right at all costs, or that you want to stick it to the District because they only compromised on your suggested plan instead of accepting it in full. Either way it seems shortsighted. I guess I’m confused as to why we haven’t been able to move on and why you are asking the District to spend time and $ on a now irrelevant issue.

    My apologies for the length of my questions, but hopefully the context provided helps in generating a simple and short response. Again, I think a succinct response is extremely helpful in this case. I would rather not argue the multiple complex details, the numbers, the rationalization. If I were a newspaper reporter, I would only get about three sentences of your answer to print. Let’s pretend that the whole valley reads this, but they will stop reading if it’s too long (kinda like they probably did in reading my post here, ha ha). I just want to know where YOU stand (not interested in Mr. Kangas’ thoughts. He’s not running. And I run a $1B company, so I am more qualified than he apparently is). My apologies in advance for the sarcasm.
    Thanks for your time.

    • I will try and contact her to let her know these question are here, Jack. And just know, I am giggling at “let’s pretend the whole valley reads this…” Obviously if they did I would be earning an income by writing so my husband could retire:) But thanks to all those who do read…

    • Jack, In response to your questions:

      Impact fee question: I believe that the city, the developers, and the district need to work together to ensure questions and concerns are addressed and an agreement can be reached so that a fair impact fee is collected, and the sooner the better. I don’t know nor would I assume to know what the impact fee should be, as it is based on a formula that is derived from assumptions related to enrollment growth, building capacities, building costs, etc. The Capital Facilities Plan for 2011 is attached to the minutes of the June 23, 2011 school board meeting which can be found on the district’s website, so you can review these assumptions for yourself. Over the five most recent years, assumptions for 6 year growth in the Capital Facilities Plan has ranged from 25% to 45%, but the actual annual growth experienced has only ranged from 1% to 3%. I think it is reasonable to ask some questions about this, and that by working together, this can be resolved.

      High school enrollment: I am opposed to using the SMS building for the high school when there is no replacement middle school, because that creates a very significant overcrowding situation at the middle school level that didn’t already exist and that could impact student learning. The high school enrollment is not growing much if at all. This slowdown in enrollment growth was evident by the middle of 2010, but the plans kept going forward for the replacement middle school bond. We need to analyze the enrollment growth estimates at the high school level again to determine when and if we will exceed capacity before we make any major building use or bond decisions. I fully support efforts to provide more interventions to help freshman students succeed, and I also support STEM type learning and teaching. But, we do not need a separate building for this initiative, unless called for by enrollment growth.

      Director Districts: Although each school board director serves the whole district, the law provides for balanced representation from residential areas across the district based upon population. Although 1/3 of the population resides in the Snoqualmie area, there is no Snoqualmie resident on the school board. The North Bend and Fall City director seats will always be filled with their residents; Snoqualmie does not have that same assurance. As part of a citizens group and as allowed and anticipated by state law, I, along with Laurie Gibbs, have asked a judge to review this decision for the sake of Snoqualmie representation, not for any personal reason. It cost us $230, and it was a simple process. If I were on the school board, I would not have authorized the expenditure of any district legal fees toward this review because there is no risk of financial penalty and the budget for student learning is so very limited.

      Please visit my website to learn more about my focus on district priorities and student success: http://simpsonforschoolboard.com/

      Carolyn Simpson

  13. Anonymously Anonymous says

    Even though it is sometimes standard practice on public blogs, one issue when posting anonymously in our closeknit community of valley residents is that everyone can be looked at as possibly responsible for the post. People start to wonder, who wrote that. Could it be so-and-so, or maybe it was so-and-so. One may be responsible for it, one is not, or maybe neither are responsible, but both end up being wondered about. I bet you’re wondering who I am.

    Just trying to make a point about the side effects of being anonymous and maybe rethinking that approach.

  14. Snoqualmie Schools Supporter says

    So the plot thickens…

    — Carolyn Simpson voted NO on the school bond that killed the new Middle School, as I learned she openly admitted at the PTA voters forum last week. I wonder what her Snoqualmie RIdge neighbors think of that? Didn’t 80-90% of the voters on Snoqualmie Ridge vote YES, hoping to get a new school built?
    Seriously? Carolyn, can you really claim “I am opposed to using the SMS building for the high school when there is no replacement middle school” – after you voted NO on the new Middle School? Come on readers and bloggers! Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in this?

    — I am concerned that Carolyn is so adament to “represent Snoqualmie”. I think I would prefer a school board member who really cares about the children, parents (and voters) from all areas of our school district, not just those in Snoqualmie.

    — I heard there was a question about Conflict of Interest at the PTA forum, too. I heard that Carolyn said she has no conflct of interest with the district. Is that possible – to have no conflicts – when she sits on the Economic Development Council for the City of Snoqualmie? I don’t read Carolyn stating that the City should be collecting the higher impact fees. The school district say they need them. It’s a simple question: Who does she support – the City or the Schools?

    — I think the only people who care about the Director Re-Districting decision are Carolyn Simpson and Laurie Gibbs. Even though the district will spend $20K (or more?) to defend the decision, it would probably cost more to re-do the whole effort. She says that if she were a board member, she would not have authorized the legal expense. But don’t lose sight of the obvious: If Simpson and Gibbs had not filed the motion, the district would not have had to spend any $$ on defending it. Again, hipocrisy reigns.

    Lastly, I am with Jack – tiring of Mr. Kangas’s rhetoric. I heard Peggy Johnson was not even at the forum the other night and Kangas was there in her place… Who is the candidate there? Kangas or Johnson?

    OK, I’ve had my say. Peace out.

    • My concerns about the SMS annexation decison and my recommendations to encourage the collection of impact fees, as well as all of my written answers to the PTSA forum questions can be found on my website at http://simpsonforschoolboard.com/.

      My work on the Economic Development Commission and the Chamber of Commerce is to nurture current businesses that are here and to attract new businesses and jobs to Snoqualmie and Valley-wide, not to determine impact fees.

      I would be happy to answer further questionsor concerns if you’d like to email me at Carolyn@SimpsonforSchoolBoard.com.

  15. Hmmm…So I’ve read some misinformation here that may explain why their posters have the views they do.
    (1) Mt Si HS is not over-crowded currently, and is well within its designed student/program capacity. In fact, there are unused classrooms. More detail on that at OSPI for those wishing to see it, plus David Spring did an accurate teacher/program/classroom accounting with MSHS principal Randy Taylor early 2011 (Jan if I remember correctly). I point that misinformation out as it persists in feeding some resident’s views that we need more HS capacity now, or within the next few years, when this is simply not the case. Community volunteer statisticians are estimating MSHS reaching capacity about 2020, altho given more recent trend data that may even be a bit too soon.
    (2) The SVSD Administration and City of Snoqualmie authorities have not been meeting about impact fees “for over a year”. It may be best for you to listen to the podcast from their website for the recent board meeting (I think it was 6 Oct, altho it may have been the one before that) to hear it for yourself: the SVSD administratrion has had only 2 meetings, spaced far apart, the last within the past month. And of course the letter SVSD sent the City this year. Just want to clarify that there has been little communication between those parties…so I caution anyone here about jumping to conclusions about any good-faith effort to negotiate by either side to settle this.
    (3) Simpson and GIbbs have not filed for “an appeal” of the SVSD Director re-districting map. Appeals have certain legal connotations that might justify SVSD hiring lawyers, and besides Appeals require a court judgement in the first place (as a result of a lawsuit) which obviously has not taken place on this matter. These 2 concerned citizens have simply requested a judicial review, which is a pretty simple matter that anyone, including anyone on this “forum”, can do and does not require SVSD to hire lawyers because there’s nothing at this point that they are defending themselves against. Ie, just because a judicial review was requested does not mean the SVSD “has to spend The question that some of us taxpayers have is the same one asked by school board director Scott Hudgins during last week’s meeting: why has SVSD spent money on expensive lawyers on this matter at this point? Oh, and although it wasn’t explicitly stated (just seemingly implied), Snoqualmie residents are not the only ones concerned about the gerrymandered new director map…North Bend residents are, too, as it splits up community areas of common interests there. And don’t forget that the director district boundaries may potentially last until 2022 (when the results of the next US Census force another review), thus will not just affect the election of Nov 2011, so there is good reason why someone may want to see a change before the election of Nov 2013 (when 2 director seats are elected), Nov 2015 (when 3 are elected, Nov 2019 (when 2 are elected), Nov 2021 (when 3 are elected).
    (4) Although Peggy Johnson informed the SV PTA Council (the organizer/host of the candidate forum) well in advance of her non-availability for their forum on the particular eve of 13 Oct, the PTA Council obviously chose to hold the forum without her. I believe that most forum hosts would try to arrange a date that accomodates all candidates, but that did not take place for some unknown reason in this case. Peggy asked me to read her prepared 2 minute answers for the list of some 25 or so questions provided in advance to the candidates, and I agreed. I am honored that she asked me, and willing to help her out on this as I believe that she is a better candidate than her incumbent for the role. To be clear on this, I was only allowed to read verbatim her prepared answers, which the forum moderator had a copy to follow along to make sure, and I was not permitted to answer any of the “rapid fire” questions that were not provided the candidates in advance (as those answers would have inappropiately been mine, not Peggy’s). You might say that I was Peggy’s talking puppet head for a portion of the forum, not inserting any of my embellishments or opinions. It is a puzzling disappointment to several of the forum attendees that she could not be there, but Peggy Johnson had a prior commitment in Spokane where she hosted several meetings on student and teacher safety in schools (she has been active in Olympia helping on legislation that passed this year with associated “Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Policy and Procedure”), which demonstrates her commitment to helping solve the problem that our students themselves consistently report on the bi-annual Healthy Youth Survey as the biggest issue they deal with: safety in school & bus (bullying, cyberbullying, sexual assault & harrasment).

    Hope the above helps people better understand the issues & candidates.

  16. Investigator says

    Stephen,
    You should run for school board.

  17. Stephen Kangas says

    I may consider that when the director position for my area is up for election in 2013, depending on how well run the SVSD is by then vs how much more effective I can be on reform & assistance outside of the school board.

    HOWEVER, my view is that our parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers cannot afford to wait yet another 2 yrs to upgrade the clarity, candor, and competence of our school board. We need to vote an upgrade now in this Nov 2011 election, in the form of challengers Geoff Doy, Peggy Johnson, and Carolyn Simpson; I have spent significant time speaking with them and doing some background investigation that has convinced me that they are all head-and-shoulders superior to the incumbents they are running against. Our community would see a rapid change in the behavior of the voting majority of the school board if they are elected, for the better: transparency (finally) via ending all secret meetings & communications, making all documents and materials pertaining to SVSD operations & planning publicly available, and display of opinions & decision making publicly at school board meetings; quantum leap in communications, 2-way, so that the public has a voice while being better informed; open-ness and honesty about discussing problems & issues that have and continue to be of concern to parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers, so that progress can be made on developing solutions to those problems, instead of taking the majority of school board meetings to pat themselves on the back about how good they are doing and killing time with much less valuable presentations by district staff; the knowledge, skill, and experience that will lead to SVSD’s first Strategic Plan that incorporates priorities in its mission, objectives, goals, and methods, that then in turn will drive the budget development, finally ending much of the waste, confusion, fighting over money and what’s important. We have needed this years ago, before the economic crash that has put SVSD into such a difficult position, but better now than 2 years from now.

    Remember, the school board is responsible for governing the SVSD Administration, hiring & firing & evaluating the superintendent’s performance, setting the specific guidelines and general actions of the administration and staff via policies that should be continually reviewed, revised, or created, and direct participation in planning, budgeting, and collective bargaining negotiations. Very little of this has been done by the incumbent school board directors, absolutely nothing in some cases. They have either not had the time, due to full-time employment elsewhere, nor the skills, experience, or knowledge. I submit we voting parents, teachers, and taxpayers will not see significant schools/education improvement, instead a decline in our students’ academic outcomes, safety, and opportunities coupled with more requests for property taxpayer funding, while this present incumbent school board cast continues their present practices (or lack thereof). Time to upgrade, folks.

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