Two Snoqualmie women vie for school board spot - Kim Horn
October 2, 2008 · Updated 5:09 PM
SNOQUALMIE - Position No. 3 on the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors is the only contested position this fall for the district. Board member Rudy Edwards is running unopposed in position No. 1, and Marci Busby was the only candidate to file for position No. 4.
Carolyn Simpson and Kim Horn will be running for the contested spot. Unlike elected posts in Snoqualmie and North Bend, the board of directors for the school district must reside in districts within the Snoqualmie Valley School District. District No. 3 covers the Snoqualmie, Fall City and Ames Lake areas. While Simpson and Horn must reside within a certain district to run for a certain position, everyone who lives within the Snoqualmie Valley School District votes for board members.
Following is background on Simpson and Horn, and their views on some of the major issues facing the district.
Horn is a California native who was in corporate communications before deciding to become a teacher. In 1998, she and her husband were the first couple to move into the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood. Horn looked for work and was happy to find a post as a second-grade teacher at Snoqualmie Elementary School. She worked there for five years before becoming a stay-at-home mother. She has two sons.
Although she is no longer working, Horn has stayed involved with the school district and education. She has kept her teaching certificate current and has sat on various committees in the district, such as the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation, the Cascade View Elementary School design team, the Citizen's Planning Committee and the bond-passage support group "Voters for Excellence."
Horn decided to become involved with the district at the administrative level when board member Dave Reed resigned last fall. She was unanimously appointed by the other four members of the board.
Growth and finances
The district's enrollment grew 7 percent this year, the largest percentage the district has grown in more than a decade and it is only expected to escalate as more families move the Valley.
Horn said she would approach growth with the governing philosophy that no new schools be built until all existing facilities are full. There is room to grow in the district, including at Cascade View, which has an enrollment 15-percent higher than the district expected. Although the brand-new school opened at capacity this year, Horn said there is room for four portable classrooms on the school's site.
The district will be working to get better numbers this year, Horn said. To get additional information, the district plans on bringing in a professional demographer this fall and will be talking with each city in the Valley about their projections for growth.
Mount Si's future will be a big issue for the district, Horn said. She has seen other districts experiment with freshmen-only campuses (Issaquah School District) and has heard about smaller satellite schools created to handle high-school students. As Mount Si grows, Horn said those discussions will take on a more urgent tone.
"There is a huge discussion about to be had about what the high school should be," she said.
Horn said her time as a volunteer and on the board has shown her the balance needed to fund schools in a financially prudent manner. As a volunteer for Voters for Excellence, Horn became familiar with the planning needed to support a bond for new schools. As a the member of a board that approved employee contracts (salaries and benefits take up 80 percent of the district's budget), Horn said she knows how to work with unions to get the "mutually beneficial" approach the district and its teachers will be striving for, and emphasized her endorsement by the district's teachers' union.
Academics, WASL and
Horn said the district is doing many good things with its academics. Last year's graduating class at Mount Si High School had 53 percent of its members go on to four-year colleges, and 33 percent to two-year colleges.
To improve academics and to get ready for the impending graduation requirement of the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), Horn said the district will be asking each school's LIT (Learning Improvement Teams, made up of school staff, parents and community volunteers) to help develop curriculum and standards.
To help meet the needs of those already excelling, Horn said the district should continue to offer more advanced classes at the high school. For those who are struggling, Horn said mandatory summer school may be needed to bring some students up to speed with the subjects they are not showing proficiency in on the WASL. She also said she would be paying attention to what the state may come up with that would allow students to graduate without having to pass the WASL test. By allowing students to show their academic abilities in other ways (such as Mount Si's E-folio program), Horn said students can still show they are proficient outside of a bad day of testing.
"Some students are not good test takers," she said.
Horn said the district has always tried to keep the public involved in issues. When it contemplated boundary changes for both Snoqualmie Middle School and North Bend Elementary School last year, there were complaints from parents and civic leaders in both communities that the process was not open and may have been hurried. Horn said the board did try to elicit comment from the public on the changes and listened to everything it heard.
"I read every single [comment]," she said.
She said that growing pains are a part of the district, though, and as more growth is planned, more hard decisions about boundaries will need to be made.
"Because of the size of the district, there will be boundary changes," she said. "You can never please everyone."
She said the district will want the public to be involved in those decisions, and she would work to get the word out in as timely a manner as possible to the public about what the board will be considering. She hopes communication at the individual school level will get information home to parents sooner, and that the plethora of volunteer and committee opportunities for community members will hasten the word about district decisions.
Vote for me,
not the other gal
Horn stressed that she is not only the sole teacher running for a board position this fall, but the only teacher on the entire board. She said her experience as a teacher and administrator has given her the unique perspective of being in just about everybody's shoes. She supported the board's decision to give teachers a planning day on Fridays this year, and approved the district's union contracts. As a former teacher, she knows what life is like inside the classroom and what the district can do to help make it better.
"[As a teacher], you don't work from just 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.," Horn said.
That experience, Horn said, will allow her to keep the benefits of all children in mind when she is working to reach a decision.
"I want to make sure we keep the big picture in mind," she said.
* For information on Kim Horn, visit www.kimhorn.org.