Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two Places At Once


The Great Northern School District is located west of Spokane, nestled between the Spokane School District and the northern edge of the Cheney School District. It's a short drive away from the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights. Great Northern is what is known as a non-high district, in that they only serve about 41 kids in grades K-6.

The Steptoe School District is 50 miles to the south, in Whitman County. It's about an equal distance away from St. John, Garfield, and Colfax. It's a K-8 building that serves an average of 30 kids. Steptoe Butte is a beautiful place in the summer.

Different schools, different configurations, separated by 50 miles, a county line, and a couple different highways.

One thing they do share: a superintendent. Mr. Kay Frizzell, who's probably most associated lately with the work that he does for his consulting business.

No one likes to talk about school district consolidation. Washington is littered with the ghosts of spots that used to be places, places that used to have schools. Places like Tyler, or Espanola. Places that you wouldn't know if you didn't live within 5 miles of them, because there's no reason to. Not anymore.

But when you have entire school districts, separate administrative units, that can be run at distance by someone who also happens to have a consulting business on the side? When that's the system we have, then systemic change isn't just a good idea, it's a bloody necessity.

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