Oct. 15 Daily News editorial
At this point, it appears unlikely that the proposed merger of Longview’s high schools will move ahead any time soon. In one race for school board, the anti-merger candidate, C.J. Nickerson, bested his opponent, Jerry Stinger, handily in the primary. Neither candidate In the other race between J.D. Rossetti and Jim Mossman supports a merger.
Still, Rossetti and Mossman offer a sharp contrast in styles, with different approaches on how to make Longview schools better. We think that Rossetti offers a more realistic and concise strategy for the schools, and that he would be a smoother fit working with other members of the school board. We endorse Rossetti for Longview School District Position 2. (We previously endorsed Nickerson for Position 1).
On the major issue facing the district, high school consolidation, Rossetti put it this way: “You do anything too big in the community and you get a lot of pushback. We need to do small steps and make sure the community is on board,” he said, which we agree is a wise course.
Rossetti suggests first eliminating portable classrooms to see how that affects the number of under-utilized rooms inside buildings before evaluating the district’s needs for space. Then, he suggests, the school district should consider selling Broadway School because the programs there could be moved to other district buildings. If the school district did eventually decide to part with Mark Morris High School, he suggested leasing rather than selling it to Lower Columbia College.
Rossetti acknowledged that the school district can’t escape standardized testing that’s mandated by the state. He said the district’s late hiring of several teachers this year (after 129 more elementary students than expected enrolled) makes it more difficult for kids to do their best on the tests. He said the school district’s financial reserve is larger than necessary, so that more funding to hire teachers could be found.
Ideally, Rossetti would like to see an individual education plan for every student, not just for those with disabilities (a proposal shared by both candidates). Rossetti acknowledged that such a development is unrealistic, however.
Rossetti said he’s knocked on 4,500 doors in his campaign, and that only some of the people he talked to felt that Mark Morris is a better school than R.A. Long. More people in the R.A. Long district feel this way, he found. But even people who feel there’s a difference in quality between the schools don’t want them merged because of it, he said.
Rossetti wants the school district to review the high schools’ boundaries “to ensure social equality for our community,” as he puts it.
If elected (and if Nickerson repeats his win over Stinger), Rossetti would be the only board member who’s a parent of children currently in Longview schools, which is a plus though not the deciding factor for us.
To their credit, both candidates were amiable with each other when they met with our editorial board.
Mossman has a laudable record of managing schools elsewhere and volunteering in Longview’s. We hope he keeps serving our community.
However, Rossetti’s more practical ideas for improving our schools and his better organization gets our nod.
Published by The Daily News online available at http://tdn.com/news/opinion/rossetti-s-the-best-pick-for-longview-schools/article_7228a414-351f-11e3-9cb4-0019bb2963f4.html