The Chimacum School District's new board member says he intends to lend his ear to the valley's longtime residents, many of whom have come to feel their voices have been drowned out by newer …
The Chimacum School District's new board member says he intends to lend his ear to the valley's longtime residents, many of whom have come to feel their voices have been drowned out by newer residents.
“I feel uniquely qualified because I knew the patriarchs and matriarchs of this community,” said Mike Gould, who grew up in Chimacum and whose family began operating the Gould Dairy Farm in the Chimacum Valley in the 1920s. “I know what it is to be a Bishop or a Brown or a Huntingford or a Short or an Eldridge, and sometimes I think those voices are devalued. We, as a society, sometimes forget to engage the old guy in the corner who has been through these things before. Those founding families are core to this community, but sometimes they get lost in the mix.”
The school board selected Gould, 54, on July 13 after interviewing three applicants to replace Maggie Ejde, who resigned her District 3 seat in May. Kristina Mayer, 62, and Chad Apeland, 31, also applied.
“I can't remember when we had three people apply for a vacated position and I definitely can't remember when they came so highly qualified,” said 14-year board member Kevin Miller, the board's designated spokesperson. “I think that happened as a result of the bond process and all our community discussion.”
In a special election in April, school district voters narrowly defeated a facilities improvement bond measure for the third time since February 2015.
Much of the community rallied behind a pro-bond campaign, but that effort also drew active opposition as evidenced by the appearance of red “Vote No” signs competing with blue “Vote Yes” signs along key county thoroughfares.
Many of those in opposition said they felt their concerns about the bond had fallen on deaf ears. Gould, a 1979 Chimacum High School graduate and a recent member of the district's bond committee, said he's in a prime position to listen and bring those voices into a constructive conversation about the future of Chimacum schools.
“I have a unique opportunity to help with that because of where I've been and where I am,” said Gould, who moved back to the area two years ago with his wife, Jan, to live on a piece of his family's historic farmland.
“I'm a third-generation Chimacum guy,” said Gould, whose father and grandfather also graduated from Chimacum. “I am proud of having graduated from Chimacum.”
In high school, Gould wanted to be a sports broadcaster. After graduation, he skipped college due to a lack of finances and moved to Seattle to cover sports for local radio stations.
“That evolved into station management and then station ownership, all mostly in Wenatchee,” said Gould, who moved to Wenatchee, Washington, with his wife in 1983. “I was lucky enough to go on to a long career in my chosen field.”
Gould moved his family, including three now-adult children, to Sisters, Oregon, in 2000, a year after launching his own company, Eastlan Ratings, the second-largest radio rankings company in the country, focusing on smaller, secondary markets.
From 2005 to 2009, Gould served on the school board there, holding that body's chair position for a time. He said he's also served on various school committees over the years, both in Sisters and Wenatchee.
“I have been involved in school committees for 30 years,” he said. “For me, for whatever reason, I have really enjoyed volunteering in education. That's just my favorite realm to be in.”
Gould said sitting on the board is his ideal way of giving back to the community that prepared him to succeed in the wider world.
“I applied because I wanted to help the school that helped me,” he said. “I would like a kid today to feel as prepared as I did in 1979. I felt I could compete with anyone. I didn't have a college education, but I felt prepared.”
The key, he said, is the value the community places on public education.
“I believe the education a kid gets in Chimacum – a kid from an impoverished family with no history of attending college – should be as good as that some kid going to school in Bellevue gets,” he said. “I think it is possible that, although they'll have a different experience, they'll be similarly prepared to compete in the world economy. I would really like us to get to a point where young parents say, ‘This is where I want my kids to be educated.’”
The first step, he said, is to bring the community together, old and new and everyone in between, in order to improve aging school facilities.
The district plans to ask voters in February 2017 to renew its maintenance and operations levy. Community-wide discussion about what a new facilities bond should look like would likely come later that year.
“It's been a board goal for many years: How do we communicate better with the community and, maybe more importantly, how do we get the community to engage with us?” said Miller, who sees Gould as one answer to that question. “Mike will definitely be a conduit into the community.”