David Johnston leaving school board seat
SNOHOMISH — When David Johnston walks away from an 11-year stint on the school board this September, it also means the conscientious leader who championed equality among schools can exit satisfied.
Johnston helped see Glacier Peak High School open, helped decide facets inside the relatively new Aquatic Center and weighed in on the transition to new superintendent Kent Kultgen after Bill Mester retired.
“Helping build schools is really interesting to me,” Johnston said, but the board’s work is “all about how are we going to support the kids.”
Johnston grew up attending Snohomish schools — he went to Emerson Elementary and graduated from Snohomish High in 1982 — but his birthplace is in North Dakota. His two boys, both SHS grads, are now young adults.
He works as a real estate attorney, and speaks up on board issues with certain gravity.
“When he speaks, he has something to say,” good friend and colleague Jay Hagen said.
The board benefited from Johnston’s thoughtfulness. “His mind’s always what’s best for the kids,” Hagen said, and mindful for taxpayers, Kultgen added.
A well-used field at SHS came about that way. Some point during construction, there was a field too small to turn into a full-scale space, and the board mulled turning it to grass. Johnston spoke up: They use half-fields for sports practice, so why not here? It became a turfed site now used for plenty of sports.
Hagen joked it was “David’s half field.”
Splitting the high schools was tough psychologically, but it also meant doubling the opportunities for students to get into extracurriculars and sports teams where space is limited, Johnston said. He saw club sports as an avenue to keep kids active, Hagen said.
Johnston also heavily supported having every child take the ACT college readiness test, which he pushed to become school policy, because he knew it can be a barrier to college, Kultgen said.
Johnston said there’s nothing more important than hiring a superintendent that can lead the district forward and maintain its values. He said Kultgen’s “personality fits well here” because, Johnston said, he is sincere in believing in helping kids.
The vacancy means change on a board that rarely does. There hasn’t been a contested school board election for almost a decade; the four longest-serving board members have a combined 52 years of tenure.
Whoever takes the seat should have their focus on children, Johnston said.
“Keep the focus on what’s best for kids,” Johnston said.
He added: “Nobody does it for the money, they do it for the right measures.”
Johnston wrinkled his face with a bemused chuckle about a goodbye party coming up. Hagen couldn’t let him leave without one.
The celebration is going to be Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in the school district’s administration building, 1601 Ave. D.
To apply for the vacancy, you must be a registered voter residing within District 4, which includes downtown Snohomish and most of eastern Snohomish from the Three Lakes area to the district’s southern border. South of the Snohomish River, everything east of Highway 9 is a dividing boundary line. Some schools in District 4 include Valley View Middle, Dutch Hill Elementary and Central Primary School.
Applicants will be requested to complete an application for review and screening by the Board of Directors. Contact the Superintendent’s office at 1601 Ave. D (phone 360-563-7280) for an application form and directors district boundary description.
Completed applications are due this week no later than 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31.
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