October 12, 2013 9:00 pm • By Leslie Slape / The Daily News
Longview School Board candidates Jim Mossman and J.D. Rossetti both feel they have good ideas and skills to bring to the district. Mossman, 71, and Rossetti, 31, are vying for the position currently held by James Campbell, whom they outpolled in the primary election.
With a 40-year background in education, Mossman said he can see clearly where improvements could be made at all levels of K-12 in the district, including in special education.
“I can see past the bureaucracy in seeing how to do it,” Mossman told The Daily News Editorial Board in an interview late last week.
He wants to change the educational focus from “test-test-test to teach-teach-teach,” saying that low scores on standardized tests can stigmatize children as deficient. He also said art and literature, math and science, health and sports should all be given equal importance.
“In school districts, they’ve cut these art programs, all these electives, and said, ‘Let’s have three hours of more academics,’” said Mossman, who often uses music as a teaching tool. “Just teaching reading and math doesn’t work. Bring the arts, drama, music, poetry … so students learn in context.”
Rossetti, 31, agreed the arts should not be ignored. He said he wants to emphasize science, technology, engineering, arts and math — commonly referred to as “STEAM” — beginning with middle school. Studies should be integrated, he said, such as incorporating the Lower Columbia School Gardens into home economics cooking classes.
He described himself as invested in the district as the parent of three school-age children; informed about the issues through attendance at all School Board meetings and study sessions since January; and dedicated to the community’s success.
Both are opposed to the option the Facilities Planning Committee recommended to the board in February: that the district’s two high schools be merged on the R.A. Long-Monticello campus, the Monticello students be bused to the other two middle schools, and either Northlake Elementary or Broadway Learning Center be closed. The board is also considering other options.
Rossetti said he favors a careful, systematic approach to facilities use and wants to identify and eliminate inefficiencies. If a building has to be closed, he would start with Broadway and then reassess before doing anything more.
“We need to do small steps, see if the community is all on board, and move forward with the blessing of the community, teachers and administrators,” he said. “The best way is through small steps.”
Mossman, who also has experience as an educational consultant, said he has “a lot of experience in taking schools from a bad situation and making it better.”
Although Mossman served on the Facilities Planning Committee, he disagreed with the committee in limiting its recommendation to only one option.
“The school merger plan must be rethought with increased teacher and community input,” he said.
Both addressed the Longview Education Association’s concern with class size. The district had an unexpected increase of 129 elementary students in September, leading the district to add 14 classrooms. Middle-school enrollment remained flat and high school enrollment declined, but teachers say that many secondary classes are overcrowded.
“We could change in a very simple way,” Rossetti said. “Longview School District should have hired the right amount of teachers at the beginning of the year.”
Mossman favors smaller classes and said hiring teachers after the year begins has been a handicap for them. He has helped the new teachers move their books into their rooms. Many of them still have materials in their cars, “and they don’t even have lesson plans,” he said.
Mossman is an education professional who’s taught at many different levels and served as the principal of a private school he and his wife owned in California. He thinks politicians ought to leave the details of education to credentialed teachers and administrators. “When you allow the politicians to get a hold of education,” he said. “You’re really in trouble.”
Rossetti has a background in politics. He currently serves as a legislative assistant to 19th District state Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, and interned with 19th District state Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond
Years in Longview: 13, coming from Rainier
Job: legislative assistant to Rep. Brian Blake; owner JDRose web solutions business; former legislative intern to U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, 2011; former public affairs intern, American Red Cross, 2010; former operations manager in retail business, 1999-2007.
Family: married, three school-age children
Education: Rainier High School, 2000; transfer degree, Lower Columbia College, 2009; bachelor’s degree in public affairs, Washington State University—Vancouver, 2011.
Political: precinct committee officer, CVG precinct, since 2008 ; president of Associated Students, Lower Columbia College, 2007-09; legislative assistant, Washington State School Directors Association, 2011-12
Civic and volunteer: Pathways 2020 board; Cowlitz-Wahkiakum United Way board; treasurer 19th Legislative District Democrats; chairman of Cowlitz County Democrats; Cowlitz County Veterans Stand Down event; assistant coach Longview Youth Baseball; coach Longview Youth Soccer; American Red Cross Disaster Action Team responder 2009-11; certified CPR, AED and first aid instructor for Red Cross, 2009-11.