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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Talk to SPS decision makers

"Educating Spokane" airs 7 p.m. Wednesday on KSPS (channel 7).

The regular program offers community members a chance to talk some of Spokane Public Schools' elected board members.

Board President Jeff Bierman and directors Sue Chapin and Rocky Treppiedi will join Superintendent Shelley Redinger to answer questions from the public.

Community members can text questions any time to es@ksps.org. Or, during the show, the question hotline is (509) 354-7711.

Spokane Public School officers may carry guns

Spokane Public Schools could have its own armed police force starting in January.

Thirteen district employees, already commissioned peace officers, are expected to start wearing .40-caliber Glock pistols at their sides.

Arming school resource officers is one of many safety measures the district approved in the wake of December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. The district is also planning to add internal door locks, hire one more commissioned peace officer and add more patrols around schools.

Newtown triggered the recent changes, “but there have been other reasons for considering arming our resource officers,” said Jason Conley, the district’s safety, security and transportation director. “It’s those outside threats that are driving us to this next level of safety. In a criminal’s mind, a school resource officer would be the first target to eliminate to get into the school.” Read more. Jody Lawrence Turner, SR

Good idea or bad?

SPD sent officers to city schools in show of support

Although more symbolic than practical, Spokane police sent officers to every school today in an effort to demonstrate that the community is working together to keep kids safe.

New Chief Frank Straub said he hoped it also would provide anxious parents with some level of comfort to see officers positioned near their schools as the nation struggles to make sense of the deadly Connecticut school shooting.

“The Spokane Police Department works very closely with Spokane Public Schools to be able to respond to emergencies,” Straub said in prepared remarks. “Every SPD officer is trained to respond to active shooter situations. We have trained in our local schools, developed joint plans, and have detailed layouts of every school within in the City to speed our response. Protecting our students and our schools is very important to us, and we have increased our police coverage at our schools today in light of the day’s events.”

You can find full coverage of the Connecticut shooting online and in Saturday's edition of The Spokesman-Review.

School board candidate not sure why he’s running

At the end of the second day of candidate filing, the race that's still drawing the most interest remains an open seat on the Spokane School Board.

Late Monday, Shawn Siggson, became the fifth candidate in the race.

Asked why he decided to run, Siggson said: “I really don’t know. Just for fun, I guess.”

“I wanted to run for mayor and when I realized it was a $1,700 filing fee, I had to start with something lower,” he said.

Because board positions are unpaid, filing fees aren’t charged to candidates. The filing fee for mayor this year is $1,693.58, 1 percent of the mayoral salary.

Although he said he doesn’t “know all that the job entails,” Siggson said he’s a serious candidate and that he identifies with the Tea Party. He said we would work to balance the budget without cutting teachers or increasing class sizes.

Siggson, 33, is an employee at Travis Pattern and Foundry.

The seat is currently held by Garret Daggett, who recently announced that he would not seek re-election.

For information on other school board candidates, read this.

Police officer in crash out of hospital

A Spokane police officer injured when a woman rear-ended his squad car was released from the hospital last night and will return to work in “a few weeks,” police said today.

Officer Jeff Graves has a soar back, neck and arms from the collision Wednesday on North Maple Street just south of Sinto Avenue.

The woman who police say hit him, Debra Hatcher, faces a vehicular assault charge and has been placed on paid leave from her job as a third-grade teacher at Finch Elementary School, according to Spokane Public Schools.

Hatcher, 54, is in her second year teaching at the school after transferring from Audubon Elementary.

Police think she was under the influence of prescription medications at the time of the 1 p.m. crash.

Spokane Schools Ban Cell Phones

Item: District bars cell phones: Spokane students can carry them, but policy limits use to lunch breaks/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR

More Info: Spokane Public Schools joined a long list of districts nationwide Wednesday when the school board voted to ban cell-phone use in grades K-12 except during lunch breaks. The policy came after parents, teachers and school administrators expressed concern last year about cell phones disrupting education.

Question: Do you support this action by Spokane Public Schools?

Vote of confidence

Today is election day.  Doesn’t feel the same as it used to, not with this fascination with voting by mail. Me, I’ll be walking my ballot down to the Voter Service Center at the STA Plaza and handing it to a live person.

One thing mail-in balloting does do is provide an advance clue as to turnout.  That’s especially important in an election like the bond issue Spokane School District 81 has on today’s ballot. It won’t be valid, no matter how many people vote for it, unless the turnout is at least 40 percent of the last general election.  The last general election, of course, would be the one in November when turnout was huge for the presidential election.  I hear that school officials and other bond backers are worried that they won’t get there.

They wouldn’t have to worry about that if they ran their bond and levy elections in November, but they don’t want to do that.  Prevailing wisdom has it that you can mobilize your supporters to turn out for a special election date in March and people who might oppose you are more likely to sit it out.  The danger, of course, is the above-mentioned validation problem — especially on the heels of a heavy turnout.

Some of us just think that the more voters who participate, the more authentic the election.  But if the District 81 bond fails and they submit it a second time, don’t bet that they’ll wait until November.


Early graduations have precedent, but ceremony worth noting

Q: I am sure mine won’t be the only email you receive concerning your
article in today’s paper.  Mid-year graduations were routine for a long
time in Spokane high schools and not just because of dropouts.  Several
of us in my class were graduating in three and a half years. Classes
started in grade school in mid-year. 

Anita Eaton