What inspires a person to run for school board against a seated incumbent? Or for that matter, any elected position? It’s expensive, labor-intensive, and let’s face it, takes guts. What is the driving force that makes all the long hours worth it for a candidate? One assumption is that these candidates believe there is a need for change – and feel (if elected) they have solutions to affect change. So I asked each Snoqualmie Valley School Board challenger to identify their “big change.” Tell me what inspired them to put their name on a sign and head out on the campaign trail. What is the change they believe they can help bring about if elected to the SVSD School Board? These are their answers…
Engage the Community
There is a break down in the relationship between the School District and the community. Many people I talk to have lost confidence in the administration and the school board. There is no sense of parents, teachers, administrators and the community all on the same team, pulling together for the good of education. The evidence is clear in failed bond propositions, antagonistic, last minute teacher contract negotiations, the reluctance of the City of Snoqualmie to accept the District impact fee proposal, the confrontational discussions over boundary changes and so on. The job of the school board is to help ensure that education in the Valley provides every child with the best possible start in life, whether they aspire to attend college, pursue a technical career or join the workforce. Without the full backing of everyone in our community, we will continue to underachieve our potential.
The school board must lead the way. Information must become much more accessible; school board members must communicate (talk and listen) to teacher groups, parent groups, student groups, city councilors, business organizations indeed anyone in the Valley with an interest in education; debates must be full and open and held in public.
Whether it’s deciding the strategic priorities for our district, approving an annual budget or placing a bond on the ballot, without the community behind us the chances of success are low. Education is critical for our kids and for our community. Strong communities need strong schools. Strong schools need community support. The school board is elected by the community to represent it; we need to start doing that. For more information visit www.geoffdoyforschoolboard.com
Set Goals for Student Success
I will work to change the direction of the district to be clearly focused on student success by developing specific goals in a strategic plan so that we can all monitor progress. Without a district-wide plan with clear goals and key indicators of success, we haven’t been able to measure how the district is performing and what improvements and interventions are needed. Measuring progress is important for our kids and for our community. Key indicators of education success are graduation and dropout rates, post-high school education results, and meaningful K-12 assessments. What should the goals be? What’s important to our community? What results do we want to see for our young people? It’s important to bring teachers, students, parents, administrators and community leaders together to set the goals, create the plan, monitor the results, and implement interventions to help students succeed. With a clear plan and an engaged community, we can ensure that all students will have the education and experience to be prepared for all options, including college, upon graduation. To learn more about Carolyn’s campaign visit www.simpsonforschoolboard.com
Transparency and Accountability
My big change would be more Transparency and Accountability. When transparency and accountability become the forefront of the way business is conducted, then and only then, will our school community become stronger and healthier.
There are many great things happening within the Snoqualmie Valley School District. However, there are also problems, which for far too long have not been discussed. With added transparency and accountability, we can finally openly and honestly discuss issues like student safety. The SVSD conducts a Healthy Youth Survey with students every other year. Each time the survey shows that safety in our brick and mortar schools is the main problem students face daily. Even though these results are shared with the school board and the community, safety continues to rank highly as a significant concern. Yet the district is not putting forth strong plans to implement improved safety policies and procedures and to monitor the results. We can move forward by listening to our students and teachers – and working together to create safer schools by acknowledging these safety concerns openly.
As a school board member I would work to bring transparency, accountability and awareness to our school district. To learn more about Peggy, visit her campaign website here.
Carolyn Simpson’s opponent is incumbent Craig Husa in Director District #3. Peggy Johnson is running against incumbent Dan Popp for Director District #5. Geoff Doy is running for Director District #2 against incumbent Caroline Loudenbeck. Look for a follow-up article with the incumbents’ big changes soon.