The price of advice



Yes, it’s a lot of money, in a small school district, at a time when educational funds are under constant threat.

The Methow Valley School Board has agreed to pay consultant Monte Bridges $16,200 (plus expenses) to help find a suitable replacement for outgoing Superintendent Mark Wenzel, who will become superintendent of the Anacortes School District on July 1.

With the right outcome, it will be money well spent.

Despite some raised eyebrows in the community, the school board was wise to quickly engage a consultant. It would be a much more problematic search without one. It’s not fair or, these days, realistic to ask the board to take on the search without any help.

The board will set search parameters and retain control over the whole process, while at the same time making sure it can’t be accused of tightly controlling who is considered a “qualified candidate” by stacking the deck in any one person’s favor.

It’s a bit of a hurry-up process, with the Methow board attempting to replicate, by July 1, what Anacortes did in a much longer time period. A structured timeline is necessary.

Appropriately, it will be a public process at several points along the way, when the public’s input counts. Finalists will have an opportunity to make their best impression in person before the entire community.

Bridges is the same consultant the Anacortes School Board used for its search-and-hire process. This is a guy who apparently knows what he’s doing, and that kind of expertise does not come cheap. Bridges found Wenzel for Anacortes. He knows what we’re looking for.


Hidden agenda?

Have you heard enough yet out of the Okanogan County Courthouse about the apocalyptic onslaught of wolves, and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s property predations, and turning all the roads over to all-terrain vehicles, and conspiracy theories involving clandestine agents of the Methow Valley?

Because it seems that’s all the three county commissioners have on their minds these days.

Surely, in the state’s poorest county, with a stubbornly high rate of unemployment, a desperate need for job creation, and extreme pressures on an array social services, there must be something else to talk about, something that affects more than a tiny portion of the commissioners’ constituency.

Just wondering.


The fire levy next time

November seems like a long way off. Not so when it comes to fully educating a community with a well-documented proposal that calls for a property tax levy increase.

Okanogan County Fire District 6, faced with cost uncertainties and other questions about a much-needed new fire station in Winthrop, has prudently decided to postpone going to the voters with a levy increase request.

That could mean a delay of up to a year before such a proposition appears on the ballot. But the extra time could also produce a detailed plan that fire district leaders are confident to put before the public.

As District 6 Chief Don Waller put it in a Methow Valley News article last week, sometimes you have to take a step back so you can keep moving forward.