May 2, 2013, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
Forging a New Path; Collaboration Gone Right
What a night. A positive experience, surrounded by insightful community members is an inspiring thing.
I was asked by our school district to attend a focus group regarding options for the next school bond. Sometimes things like this can be nerve-wrecking, as you never know what your group dynamic will be or worry that if people come in with preconceived ideas, will they hear your ideas if they differ. That’s the risk of focus groups. You accept it going in. So I set out reminding myself that this exchanging of different ideas is what my group is charged with doing … to speak and to listen, be open-minded. That was the ultimate purpose.
The particular group I was placed in was delightful, respectful, positive – comprised of administrators and parents. We all seemed to grasp that the next school bond was about improving facilities, as well as how those improvements enhance and move forward education in the Snoqualmie Valley. They work in tandem.
No one questioned or judged earlier district, board or committee decisions that brought us to this place. That wasn’t the point – not what we were asked to do. We were asked to discuss and share our opinions about potential bond options – ones that revolved around secondary education, focusing on improving the Mount Si High School building, as well as a 6th elementary school.
Three bond options – and none of them cheap. How can they be when there is work to be done? Work we’ve known we need to do since 2007. That 6th elementary school costs around $30 million to build. And Mount Si is 60 years old. Except for the football field, it hasn’t been flood-proofed, brought up to today’s flood zone building code. The last remodel was in the early 90′s. It’s been through many floods. In the end, though, it is THE Valley high school, something that connects generations in our community as well as almost every district student. In a way, it’s the common ground of a vast Snoqualmie Valley.
It’s our community. These are our kids. These are our schools. They matter. Education is a broad spectrum of things, with the brick and mortar being an important component. We constantly strive to raise the bar on education, changing and improving as we learn more. We invest in teacher training, technology, new curriculum, new books – and then you hit a point when it’s time to make the big investment, an investment in the buildings that house all these things that encompass education today.
Last night we were asked to share our opinions on such an investment in Mount Si High School. As our group worked, three of us with children realized that if we can show voters why this investment matters and pass a bond, most likely our children won’t reap the benefits of a “21st century education building.” They will be gone from the district before the work is complete. So in a way, we were asked to work and contribute for the next generation of Valley children. And you know what? That’s okay, because for me, the investment in our schools is for the future of our community – a greater good if I am allowed to say that.
So thank you to Don, Ruth, Erin, Jill, Angela, Scott and the school board and district for inviting me, placing trust in me. I left this group collaboration feeling positive, inspired – having learned new things from listening to the opinions of others; working with them to forge a new path.
I can honestly say, there was no division in our group, only collaboration to move forward for the good of our schools and our kids. I believe this is what it is going to take when the next school bond comes around – positive collaboration, good planning and then showing everyone else out there why this next bond, the investment in our schools, matters.
April 7, 2013, Letter to Editor:
On February 28th, the Washington State Supreme Court announced a ruling that struck down the voter-approved Initiative 1185, which required a two-thirds majority to raise legislative taxes.
This decision came after the League of Education Voters (LEV), the Washington Education Association (WEA) and House Democrats along with a few activists, sued taxpayers to have the initiative declared unconstitutional. This lawsuit, initiated against overwhelming statewide voter approval, proves the need for citizens to hold current legislators accountable and to elect those in the future who will constitutionally enshrine the two-thirds threshold for raising taxes.
Over the past 20 years, whenever Washington voters were presented with the opportunity to impose a limit, they approved supermajority measures for raising taxes. In some convoluted way the initiative process has thus become a justification for a majority of voters to elect candidates who share their social views, but have contempt for Washington’s fiscal conservatism.
Because so much is at stake in our state, leadership from both parties is necessary for sustainable budgets. We must revitalize our democratic traditions in order to elect representatives that respect the will of the voters and who will form budgets in a collaborative manner. Voters not only want their wishes respected, they have demonstrated that they want the ideals of both parties to be included in the budget creation process.
Some pundits have erroneously argued that an amendment will subject budgeting to a tyranny of the minority. Don’t be fooled. It is the invented concern of the anti-democratic crowd in power who don’t share voter’s fiscal views. This distrust of voters is not just limited to the electorate’s stance on financial priorities. It is also visible during the campaign season, when voters select their representatives.
In 2012, I was a first-time candidate for a state Senate, running on a platform of fiscal restraint in Olympia and economic prosperity for all Washington. Although I ran as a Republican, the opposition to my candidacy originated from both parties because I challenged an incumbent. In the process of the election campaign, my youthful indiscretions from 20 years ago turned into a smear, a near pogrom, by my opponent’s supporters. The effort went so far that a political reporter sympathetic to my opponent used the platform of his major wire service to write highly embellished, negative articles that were further exploited in direct mailings and on the Internet.
Political operatives who have mastered the art of the “big lie” are actively involved in our elections. Their contempt is not limited against the opposing candidates as it is against the voters themselves. Campaign insiders don’t focus on issues. Apparently, in their view, voters can’t be trusted to make the right choices. In America’s politics, the tendency among candidates and interest groups is to pursue electoral victory above all else. In fact they treat politics as war. This destructive attitude runs counter to our basic democratic values and ultimately inhibits our state government’s ability to reach common-sense solutions that capture the best thinking of both parties.
Now, it’s up to us. Voters must act over the next few election cycles to demand that their candidates for the legislature support the concept that a supermajority is needed to raise taxes. If they don’t follow the public will, then we should thank them for their services and elect new leaders who do.
More important than many realize, if Washington is to move from unsustainable spending patterns to a budget that is predictable, we must engage the clutch that allows spending to slow to match natural revenue growth.
Brad Toft | Snoqualmie, WA
[Brad Toft has a career in the financial sector that spans two decades that includes roles from executive to small business owner. He is President of his local Rotary chapter and a board vice-president for the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 he was a candidate for the 5th District Senate seat.]
March 27, 2013, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
Snoqualmie Valley, Can a North Seattle DUI Tragedy Scare More Drivers Straight?
is tragic North Seattle accident. For mor
The thing about neighborhood blogs is sometimes they allow you to get a bigger grasp on news, events and issues impacting very local communities. In the days following the tragic, fatal accident in a Northeast Seattle crosswalk, I’ve been looking to Ravenna Blog to see how that community is doing.
Exactly 18 years ago I was a 25-year old mother with my first newborn baby. The young woman in critical condition after being hit in a crosswalk by a drunk driver while holding her newborn is just 33. A man, who with a blood alcohol level of .22, got behind the wheel of a pickup truck and forever changed the lives of one family.
I can’t help it. I keep thinking of the father and the unimaginable grief, anger, shock he must feel. Another person’s terrible decision and in an instant, his life is changed forever. His parents were killed. His wife and 10-day old baby are fighting for their lives. It is so unfair – unexplainable unfairness – and all because a man got behind the wheel with a .22 blood alcohol level.
I have teenagers. One drives. One will soon. Have they been told over and over of the dangers of drinking and driving? Yes. Told over and over that one bad decision could ruin their lives, as well as others, permanently.
Each year, Snoqualmie Police simulate a drinking and driving crash right before prom. It moves kids. It scares them. It should. But this, this horrific tragedy in Ravenna, in the midst of a sunny day spring day, it’s not a simulation. It’s real life.
I told my teenagers about it. I watched tears come to one’s eyes. I heard one say they didn’t want to hear about it. But I continued regardless, because this is what drinking and driving can do. And as hard as it is to hear, they need to.
Do I want them to be fearful of the world? No. Do I want them to be scared to death of drinking and driving – so that they never do it? Yes. That’s my choice as a parent.
18-years ago this month, I walked the streets of Seattle, Alki Beach, with a new baby in my arms –sometimes with family members. Somewhere just 30 miles away, on Monday afternoon, a new father got a call that no person should ever receive.
If even the slightest good can materialize from tragedy, I hope it would be that more drivers might call a cab; that more teen drivers are scared straight by the real life (not just simulated) consequences of DUI.
There are donation funds set up to help the family of the information visit Ravenna Blog.
March 4th, 2013, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
HOME BUILDING AND VALLEY SCHOOLS: TIME TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT HOW WE GOT HERE AND FOCUS ON THE FUTURE?
There is a 100-unit market rate rental townhome development planned for the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and Swenson Drive – and it’s leading to some debate in the neighborhood.
The worry for some Deer Park residents is the traffic at the nearby intersection and the impact on schools in our fast-growing district. There is also contention because a residential zoning modification that paved the way for the development wasn’t well communicated to residents of nearby homes.
The issues surrounding the new apartments stem from a modification to the original zoning of land parcel S-11. In the Snoqualmie Ridge Final Mixed-Use Plan, this parcel was zoned retail or residential. If residential, it was to be 4-9 dwelling units per acre to include single family (SF) and single-family (SF) detached homes or up to 6-unit multiplex housing.
The Snoqualmie Ridge II land developer wasn’t able to successfully market the land as retail so in 2011 they requested a modification of the original residential zoning for denser dwellings per acre and to include multifamily housing beyond the original 6-unit multiplex maximum designation.
The modification was granted in June 2011. Later this year, a 100-unit rental housing development will begin construction. Some say the Snoqualmie rental units are needed for those who can’t afford to buy homes and others say the complex will bring more negatives than positives.
Beyond how the development came to exist, though, is the worry of how this multi-family housing development will impact Snoqualmie Valley Schools. I am told this issue is included in a petition possible being presented to Snoqualmie City Council to delay the development.
So the question remains, will Snoqualmie Valley schools see fewer new students by keeping this land parcel designated for single-family residences? In a nutshell, it appears the answer is no.
For planning purposes, the Snoqualmie Valley School District uses an average student generation factor based on data from some neighboring districts. This yearly number is used to project the number of new students the district might see from newly constructed single and multi-family housing.
This year’s average generational number for single-family homes (based on the Issaquah, Kent, Auburn and Lake Washington School Districts) is .707 and for multi-family housing it is .275. Basically this means the Snoqualmie Valley School District anticipates a new single-family home to generate approximately .707 new student(s) and new multi-family housing to generate about .275 new student(s).
The two numbers point to more pressure being put on school facilities from single-family homes than from multi-family housing. This number also points to why school district impact fees are larger for single-family homes versus multi-family.
Based on the .275 average number for multi-family housing, our district could see about 28 new students from the proposed 100-unit rental townhome development.
If the 11-acre land parcel was developed for 6 single-family homes per acre (about average for Snoqualmie Ridge and in the middle of the parcel’s original 4-9 unit designation), the 66 new homes might generate 46 new students for our school district, though.
There is no doubt our school district needs to pass a school construction bond to ultimately solve capacity issues. The only SVSD elementary school capacity left is outside of Snoqualmie and is why new housing developments on Snoqualmie Ridge attend school in Fall City and North Bend. But it looks like a new elementary school located in Snoqualmie will be on the next school bond.
Yes, our middle schools will be overcrowded next year because Snoqualmie Middle School is being closed and converted to a 9th grade campus. It’s important to remember, though, that our middle schools are being overcrowded by design. When the freshman campus opens next year, the building that houses it will be under capacity.
When the 9th graders are moved out of Mount Si High School next year, it too will be under capacity. Mount Si, with the installation of the 2009 new portables and the addition of Wildcat Court, increased its capacity to over 1600. Currently Mount Si has about 1560 (full-time equivalent) students and next year it might have around 1200 students.
Yes, we’re growing. Yes, we need more permanent school space. If we want growth in our school district to slow, it seems single-family home building has the most impact. Is building going to stop, though? I doubt it. I don’t see the land developer kindly halting construction until we pass a school bond. Especially since we’re finally coming out of the housing recession.
I think instead of fighting what’s being built and where, we should focus on passing the next school bond and finally solving the capacity issue at hand – and focus on educating our kids for jobs of the future.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District has known for almost 10 years home many homes and new students are possible in Snoqualmie Ridge Division II. SVSD was involved in the planning process along the way. All this building isn’t coming as a shock to them.
Since 2007, the district has tried 5 times to pass bonds for a long-term capacity solution. I think it’s time we pass one and stop pointing fingers and pondering the could-of, the should-of. It’s been 10 years (May 2003) since we passed a bond that built a much-needed school.
It’s time… time to invest in our district, our schools and our kids.
February 14, 2013, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
RIP SNOQUALMIE MIDDLE SCHOOL
Last week Snoqualmie Middle School (SMS) teachers were presented with a list of open teaching positions at Twin Falls and Chief Kanim Middle Schools for the 2013-14 school year. The list represented reality; reality that this June their school is REALLY closing to become the district’s Freshman Campus.
SMS teaching teams may part ways after this school year. Some core teachers may instruct a different grade level next year. Some may move from teaching one subject to teaching multiple subjects – and some may not teach at the middle school level next year.
Change is hard. Feelings get hurt. The jobs of one group of middle school teachers and staff appear more directly impacted than others. It feels a bit unfair.
A colleague reminded me that this is how most employees feel when their company is the subject of a takeover. For lack of a better explanation, those most impacted feel like they are getting a raw deal, with no sympathy expressed. But is public education the same as corporate business?
The teachers at Snoqualmie Middle School are like a family – and they’re being split up. They aren’t the divorcing parents who have a voice in setting forth their future. The teachers and staff involved are more like the children of divorce – or a family experiencing a loss.
The loss in this case is the glue that holds the SMS family together – the building, their “teaching house.” Another family of teachers will soon call it home; make a new life in it.
But in the meantime, the teachers who instruct many Snoqualmie children (and countless others over the years) are going through big changes. Their “home” is needed for a different purpose. Their loss, a building, is expendable in the name of education.
That may be the case, but don’t forget about the family that currently resides in that home. Ask yourself how you’d feel, empathize and remember the people inside that building who are about to lose it.
Some teachers at Fall City Elementary did just that yesterday. They sent over treats, pick-me-ups, to fill the workroom at Snoqualmie Middle School. A small act of kindness symbolizing a morale booster – empathy baked up in edible treats.
The Snoqualmie Middle School teachers are deserving of that empathy. They will be okay in the end. They will still have jobs, but their home and family will forever be changed.
All this change is necessary, right? That debate seems to linger even today. I guess only time will tell…
January 30, 2013, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
Let the Conversation Begin: Where Do 9th Graders Belong?
The SVSD School Board is meeting in a work session Saturday morning for an important “facilities planning” discussion.
For those of you unfamiliar with the jargon, that means the board will discuss what facilities/buildings our district needs to meet the future capacity and educational needs of students . Once those facilities are determined, the next step is usually running a bond to finance them.
A little history… in 2009/10, a Long Term Facilities Planning Committee came up with two top options to solve our district’s high school capacity problem. This committee was formed to find a new capacity solution after 3 bond failures to fund the district’s original one – building a second high school.
Slowing enrollment reduced the need for a second high school. So the two solutions that made the committee’s short list were: 1) using Snoqualmie Middle School as part of the high school (and building a replacement middle school) or 2) modernizing and expanding Mount Si High School. The cheaper of the two options made it to the 2011 bond ballot.
Unfortunately, the 2011 bond to build that replacement middle school failed – twice. Even without a replacement for it, Snoqualmie Middle School is closing at the end of this school year and transitioning to a Freshman camps. Its space will meet the high school capacity needs. Its students will move to Chief Kanim and Twin Falls Middle Schools.
Last March the school board agreed to run a future school bond that would return our district to its three middle school educational model – leaving most residents expecting a third try at replacement middle school bond – and a permanent freshman campus.
Over the past 6 months, though, something shifted. The board began discussing the Freshman Campus being temporary, and that a comprehensive high school is grades 9-12, not 10-12. Having 9th graders on the Mount Si campus provides expanded programming for all grades. Separate freshman campuses can limit programming available to 9th graders.
For educational reasons, the board began discussing ultimately returning 9th graders to the Mount Si campus, and in the future returning Snoqualmie Middle School to 6-8th graders.
An architectural feasibility study of Mount Si was ordered to determine what improvements, expansion were actually possible on the site, taking into account building codes and floodway issues. That work is complete. Although expensive, the aging high school can be fixed, flood-proofed, remodeled and expanded.
All that is left if for the board to determine the long-term educational model of our high school. And it all seems hinged on deciding where 9th graders ultimately belong – on a separate campus or on a traditional 9-12th campus.
What Saturday’s work session may provide is an opportunity for an important conversation about 9th grade and high school education. For an optimal high school educational model, should freshman be on the same campus as 10-12th graders?
For me, this has been the missing component to past facilities discussions. Determining and solving our district’s capacity needs is about more than building structures. Education is paramount and reflected by those buildings.
In this case, the discussion is centered on where (ultimately) 9th graders should be educated and the reasons why. What’s best for education in the valley, not just where should we put freshman because of a capacity problem – and then look for the silver lining and tout reasons why it will be great.
Remember, our district didn’t decide to separate freshmen only for educational reasons. A Mount Si capacity need led to the 9th grade campus concept. Mount Si’s growing enrollment was a real problem and a solution was needed. But is it the best, long-term solution when it comes to education? It’s time to have that conversation.
Once the discussion occurs, a long-term facilities solution can be set forth. If it’s best for education to bring 9th graders back to Mount Si, then a bond might reflect that priority. If it’s determined better for education to separate freshmen on their own campus, then a bond might reflect that.
Discussing where 9th graders ultimately belong and what is best for long-term high school education is like the missing puzzle piece. The public needs to understand its importance and the role it plays in shaping facility needs and in the end, school bonds.
Is it easier to run a replacement middle school bond for a third time and permanently separate 9th graders? Maybe. Is it what’s best for the long-term? It’s a discussion that hasn’t happened yet. But the research is out there. Three area high schools have used Freshman campuses as capacity solutions and then moved 9th graders back. What can we learn from these districts?
I look forward to hearing the board have this discussion. Only then can a plan be determined and we can move forward with our next school bond.
The Work Session is Saturday, February 2nd, 8AM-12PM in the Snoqualmie City Council Chambers.
November 30th, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
I keep thinking how people are different. Yet sometimes it’s these differences that combine to make the greatest whole. In reality that’s what makes our Snoqualmie Valley community what it is.
I witnessed that personally this past month. I met people I didn’t know well, but with whom I happened to share a common goal. We all listened to each other; worked together; emulated community – no matter what valley town we called home.
Sometimes it takes many different people to create something great, whole, complete. You need a researcher, a speaker, a writer, an organizer, an advisor, an outspoken one, a philosopher, a worrier, a comedian.
You need one of everything and a lot of common ground, appreciation and respect.
If you combine that with openness, cooperation, patience and a willingness to incorporate change in pursuit of an outcome possibly even greater than you first imagined… well, great things can happen.
It’s called compromise. It might not be what you wanted; what you thought was best or first imagined; but it can be the middle ground that pulls two sides together.
A freshman campus is just a place; a place for our kids and their education. It’s a place our district arrived at out of what some might view as turmoil, un-passed school bonds, controversy.
Yet, here we are.
In the end, the education of our children at this freshman campus place is what brought many different people together – to make that education the best it can be for all students; students from a large, vast geographical Snoqualmie Valley School District.
There was a positive feeling after Thursday’s school board meeting. Community and parents came together. A principal and district listened and acted.
It feels like momentum. Maybe a momentum that will lead us toward passing a future school bond that ultimately solves the long-term capacity and educational needs of a growing and diverse school district.
If we keep working together anything is possible. Only time will tell. Until then, thank you to everyone.
November 23rd, Letter to Editor:
It’s been just weeks since the 2012 elections, and I imagine many of you welcome the reprieve from campaign advertising. You may have been disappointed regarding the ballot box results. However, I encourage you accept the voice of the people and to become more engaged in the process. Washington elected to retain single-party rule for at least another term. It remains to be seen, though, if our new elected leaders will change course from a path that brought us declining quality of public education and fiscal uncertainty. In representative government, we must articulate the citizens’ priorities to our leaders. That task knows no rest, both in and out of election season.
Leadership in Olympia must steer another course and place governing ahead of games. Rather than managing Washington’s citizens, the new governor and legislature should strive to serve the people. Private enterprise must have the confidence to invest and hire employees, and it’s time for elected leaders to take this seriously. That must be immediately followed by fully-funding our public education system with the already-existing dollars in the budget. While speaking of education, I am pleased that public education leaders will be charged with bringing more flexibility to our system with the implementation of charter schools.
Finally, the legislature must honor the voters’ wishes in requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. This necessitates bi-partisan support for future budgets and requires government to live within its means. If Olympia tries an end-run, we must hold them accountable.
In the aftermath of an election like 2012, it would be easy for cynicism to set it. It has been said that cynicism is full of naïve disappointments that cause people to disengage from government and politics. But we can ill afford the citizenry’s decoupling from its government. There are still millions of people in Washington State who believe as you do. So now is not the time to succumb to doubt. Rather, it is time to remain both involved and informed so that you can speak with a reasoned voice.
I am committed to work shoulder to shoulder with those who choose this route. I hope you are, too.
Thanks for reading,
November 5th, Letter to Editor:
It has been my privilege and a joy to be in this race for the 5th District Senate seat in 2012. Last November, getting to this point may have seemed like a long-shot, but your increasing support has made a victory likely today. And as the flurry of events have unfolded in this race, you’ve helped me remain focused on the reason why I started in the first place; our families need for jobs, and our responsibility to provide our children the best possible education we can give them.
The politics of diversion run rampant in our day. Claims that have arisen during the campaign have served as distractions from our most pressing challenges. This is why it remains incumbent on political leaders to show the way to a better future. I believe this means fostering a more effective partnership between the public and private sector rather than the central planner’s futile attempts at managing us. And it also means renewing our promise to educating our children, which includes trusting voters with the truth about funding and ceasing the attacks on those who call for reform.
In order to solve the crisis of getting our families back to work, we must improve the small business climate in Washington State. A stable state budget combined with tax and regulatory reform should be the first priorities in order to make this happen. Organizations like the Association of Washington Business, and the National Federation of Independent Business are committed to bringing prosperity back to our state, and they have endorsed me as the one who understands the needs of the business climate in Washington .
The Education Funding
We must follow the directive of our state constitution and utilize the first dollars of the budget to fund our education system. The money is in the budget to fully fund public education right now, but over the past decade the legislature has siphoned off this money for other non-essential services. We must reward districts that keep administrative overhead low and get the most money to the classrooms. There are districts in our state that are pushing seventy cents of every dollar spent to the classroom; this must be among the legislature’s adopted metrics for effective funding of education.
During this election season, I have taken the initiative to publish my views in this newsletter and in our local blogs so that you, the voter can be informed about your choices. I paired this with a defined commitment to draw distinctions with my opponent on policy views, but refrain from impugning his character. Doing this was intended to bring clarity on issues, and encourage you to hold me accountable for how my campaign is run. I have taken on my own party against a sitting incumbent and withstood vicious attacks on both me and my family. I have been asked why I would do this, in the age of diversion politics. My answer is this: Participating in the process that will shape the future for our children is worth the sacrifice to me. I know it is to you as well.
You are asking leaders to seek the public good over party influence and migrate away from single party-rule in Olympia. I have done my best to heed your call by standing up to both my own party and the Democratic establishment. It has not been easy. This is the last letter before Election Day. I hope that I will be able to continue them as more than a candidate. Jill and I are grateful for your support: it will be an honor to serve you as the next Senator from the 5th District, and so it is with sincere enthusiasm that I ask for your vote.
Thanks for reading,
November 2nd, Letter to the Editor:
Revelations of corruption have bubbled up over the past two weeks in the 5th Legislative District. Prominent Democrats and Republicans alike have called for an investigation of the questionable arrangement between Gov. Chris Gregoire, former Sen. Cheryl Pflug and their chosen beneficiary, Mark Mullet.
For years we have worked and lived in the district. We are mothers, business people, volunteer leaders and voters. We participate in the electoral process, and we teach our children to do the same. Until now, this district has had the benefit of solid representation in Olympia. Now, this equilibrium is threatened by ill-conceived and unwanted political shenanigans. All of our representatives in the legislature serve publicly with the consent and approval of the voters. In exchange for this public trust, we look for them to follow strict ethical guidelines that uphold both the letter and spirit of the law. It appears that there has been a breach of one or both of these in this scandal.
Mark Mullet has been implicated several times in the bribery allegations. He has refused to distance himself from former Sen. Pflug’s resignation and appointment, even as potential Senate colleagues from both parties call this arrangement into question. He has continued to use the former Senator in his television commercials. We are concerned that he does not comprehend the seriousness of the allegations and that he has taken them too lightly. Our leaders must fight both the appearance and existence of corruption. In this, we believe Mr. Mullet has shown he is not up to the task.
Mark Mullet was questioned about his knowledge of the bribe at the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum. His answer was meandering and at one point he even laughed at the claim. We are left to conclude that he is either naïve about the politics of the state, or that he is ambivalent about corruption. In another opportunity to respond to the allegations on this very blog, Mr. Mullet chose to attack his opponent rather than attempt to inform the voters with a credible answer.
True leaders honestly address tough issues and shed light on murky dealings. It seems that Mr. Mullet is content to let this matter remain clouded with the hopes that he can still win an election. So, after considerable thought and discernment, we have reluctantly reached the conclusion that Mark Mullet does not deserve to serve us in the state Senate. We urge your vote for Brad Toft.
Erin McCallum Lee Keller
North Bend, WA Carnation, WA
October 16th, Living Snoqualmie Editorial:
I have spent a great deal of time trying to be neutral as Living Snoqualmie has grown this year, but figure every once in a while I can say how I feel. People ask me how I feel about the middle school boundary change and new Freshman Campus so here’s my answer. This doesn’t mean anything will change, but here goes….
Boundary Change, Boundary Change, Boundary Change – Enough! I Surrender.
There’s nothing like a school boundary change to bring out the emotion in parents. And it’s happening yet again in Snoqualmie, only 2 years after the last boundary change plucked out the growing community of Deer Park (my own neighborhood) and set it in the North Bend Elementary School boundaries. A school located 7 miles and one city away.
Boundary changes are never easy. Admittedly, the last one was probably harder on me than my then 3rd grader. But we both made it. Was it my preferred choice? No. But we made it. Was it easy? No. But we made it.
In retrospect, moving to NBE opened me up to parts of the valley I missed once Cascade View opened and we became a “bubble-ized” family – parts of the valley I used to be more connected to before infrastructure came to the Ridge – back in our Ridge “pioneer days” when you traveled to North Bend for everything.
There was a time when Snoqualmie Ridge had no restaurants, no grocery store, no doctor or dentist. My first 4 years in Snoqualmie we had one school elementary school. Snoqualmie Ridge students also tried to fit in Snoqualmie’s one middle school, but around 2004 we just couldn’t and Ridge children were moved to Chief Kanim Middle School – and it was a hot button issue even then.
I am beaten down by boundary changes. My oldest child attended CKMS for two years until Twin Falls opened and then our neighborhood was moved back to Snoqualmie Middle School. At the time my younger kids were at Cascade View and the population there busted through its seams, just two years after opening, resulting in 150 elementary kids being moved out of CVES to Snoqualmie Elementary.
Snoqualmie’s two elementary schools survived another couple years before the next boundary change. This time the move was further – to the open space at North Bend and Fall City Elementary. So students from Snoqualmie and North Bend were shifted this time. As a result, Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhoods now feed four elementary schools – only two of them in Snoqualmie – and Deer Park now accounts for almost half of NBE’s population, with about 100 more neighborhood homes still to build.
During these boundary changes from 2004 to present, our district passed ONE school bond. That was in 2009. Before that it was 2003. Between 2007 – 2011, five other bonds were tried but failed. All the while I have known each boundary change was absolutely necessary. You could be emotional about it, but you knew it was the pragmatic solution
I cannot say that about this latest middle school boundary change. I wish I could, but I don’t believe it’s absolutely necessary – YET. In my opinion, our district has time to find a long-term solution that doesn’t involve disrupting our middle school students like we are about to do.
Enrollment projections at Mount Si slowed from the 2011 bond literature estimates, giving us a gift of time. Take 450 kids out of MSHS next year and those new, 2009 portables could sit empty. But somewhere along the line the administration said it was going to do this 9th grade campus in 2013. When enrollment projections declined, what started as a capacity solution morphed into a programming solution.
We’ve been told programming benefits to next year’s 9th graders (and 10-12th graders on the main MSHS) will outweigh the disruption to our middle schools. We were also told middle school programming might expand by reducing to two middle schools, making overcrowding and long bus routes worth it.
We’ve been told a lot of things, and I just want to say that I am ready to see them. I’ve had faith for a year. I am ready to see the proof. A community is being divided yet again; this time, on a promise of better and greater things for middle and high school education.
Our school board is readying a 2013 school bond. Regardless of what that bond contains, a new middle school or expanded/modernized high school, it is a long-term solution for the increasing high school population.
If that bond passes, this latest boundary change, the conversion of Snoqualmie Middle School to a 9th grade campus and its approximate $4 million price tag (for work at SMS and portables at CKMS and TFMS), is only temporary.
$4 million is a lot of money for a temporary (possible 2 year) solution. Not to mention, a lot of disruption to nearly 1,500 middle schoolers and their high-functioning and high-achieving schools. Additionally, running the new freshman campus will add about $350,000 annually to the general operating budget.
In 11 years this is the first time I’ve been left feeling like a boundary change wasn’t absolutely necessary; it wasn’t a last resort. Yes, maybe in a couple years, but not now. Not when a bond is looming that could offer a permanent solution without the temporary and expensive sacrifice.
This is a boundary change for programming – a promise of programming. I encourage everyone to attend Thursday’s School Board Work Session on the future Freshman Campus and find out more about the programming, curriculum, the costs, budget impact and the logistics. The meeting starts at 5PM in the District Office.
Find out if it’s worth it or if you would ask your school board to delay until after the next bond attempt, giving the public a chance to weigh in on the issue of whether the benefits to high school programming really do outweigh the costs to the our middle schools.