Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz Visits Forks High School, Highlights Importance of Timber Revenue for Education

Last Friday morning, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz visited Forks High School, where she engaged with the school’s administration, representatives from Clallam County, the Port of Port Angeles, the local Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the North Olympic Library System (NOLS), various junior taxing districts and timber interests, and several community members. The visit underscored the critical role that local timber sales play in supporting the school district’s financial needs.

The tour commenced in the Forks High School (FHS) library, where Quillayute Valley School District (QVSD) Superintendent Diana Reaume presented key information regarding the district’s reliance on timber revenue. Reaume emphasized that QVSD is considered a property-poor district compared to others with significant industry and housing. “As a property-poor district, we are reliant on other revenue sources,” Reaume noted. She highlighted the challenges in passing school bond measures due to the cost per $1,000 of assessed property value for taxpayers.

Reaume provided detailed figures, explaining that annual timber sale revenue constitutes about 2 percent of the district’s budget, averaging $968,963. “This revenue is crucial,” Reaume said.

The QVSD board of directors has developed a 20-year facility plan, which plays a vital role in capturing timber revenue. Reaume cited past and ongoing projects funded by timber revenue, including $11 million from the Common Schools fund in 2008 for additions to Forks High School. The district plans to run a Replacement Bond for the Forks Middle School in 2027 and expects about $15 million from the Common Schools Fund.

Over the past decade, the district has completed several major projects, such as the biomass facility, FHS additions, roofing projects, the Spartan field and stadium, stadium bathrooms (now in progress), and various maintenance endeavors. Reaume also highlighted the district’s challenges with many unfunded staffing positions and mandates.

During the tour, the group visited the Spartan Hall of Fame decades display, the Spartan Gym, wrestling and weight rooms, the biomass building, Spartan Stadium, and the new stadium bathrooms. Reaume shared future plans, including new turf and an area for high school fastpitch and baseball fields beyond the new Spartan field.

Commissioner Franz’s visit highlighted the essential partnership between local timber sales and the educational infrastructure in Forks and elsewhere, demonstrating the broader impact of natural resources on community development and education.