RSSMerging High Schools
Longview residents like their schools and the quality of education, but they’re not convinced that declining school enrollment is a serious problem or that dealing with it needs to be a high priority right now, a researcher told the Longview School Board at its meeting Monday night.
A survey of 400 school district residents found that about half are willing to consider school consolidation. However, 65 percent prefer that the school district keep the current number of schools, Lake Oswego researcher Ben Patinkin told the board. But when residents were told that maintaining the status quo would cost $155 million over 20 years — more than any of the consolidation options — the number of people in favor of it dropped to 40 percent.
Patinkin Research Strategies, hired by the district in June, surveyed residents on land lines and cellphones between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1. The survey has a plus-or-minus 4.9 percent margin of error.
Right after the Aug. 6 primary, in which two incumbent school board members took a shellacking, Longview School Superintendent Suzanne Cusick said “citizens sent a message that they care deeply about our schools.”
A look a precinct-by-precinct results of the election, available for the first time last week, more likely shows something else — voters were just plain just angry over the high school/middle school merger issue.
Opponents of school consolidation Monday night urged the Longview School Board to abandon a scientific phone survey of voter attitudes toward a merger plan, saying the Aug. 6 primary showed widespread public opposition.
Longview businessman Jeff Wilson told the board it was “ridiculous” to spend any money on a phone survey and they should “pull the plug now.”
“You are aware of the primary results,” he said, referring to the drubbing of two board incumbents. “It’s extremely scientific to the measurement of what people think.”
Tuesday’s primary vote on two Longview School Board races shows the public wants both a change in leadership and the direction of the school merger discussion, according to interviews Wednesday with supporters and skeptics of consolidation.
A citizens committee recommendation to merge the two high schools on the R.A. Long/Monticello campus “created a lot of havoc in the community,” committee member Ray Van Tongeren acknowledged, and the vote was a reaction. “The citizens spoke. I think this community does not like change. I love change.”
In the race for board Position 1, school board president Jerry Stinger came in a distant second to challenger C.J. Nickerson, who captured 61 percent of the vote. Stinger, who got 25 percent, will face Nickerson in the general election, having outpolled challenger Darrell Smith in the state’s “top two” primary.
In an election that could be viewed as a referendum on the Longview school merger issue, challenger C.J. Nickerson trounced incumbent school board president Jerry Stinger in Tuesday’s primary election.
Nickerson captured 61 percent of the vote, easily outpolling Stinger, who got 25 percent. As winners of the “top two” primary, Stinger and Nickerson will face off in the November general election. A third candidate in the race for the position 1 seat, Darrell Smith, captured just 13 percent of the vote.
Results in the other Longview school board race were much closer, with incumbent James Campbell narrowly trailing challengers J.D. Rossetti and James Mossman. Rossetti was leading with 29.36 percent of the vote in Tuesday night’s returns. Rossetti lead Mossman by 13 votes and Campbell by 66 votes.
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