Visit Kitsap Sun’s On-Line Voter’s Guide

Three questions were posed by the Kitsap Sun.  Only two of the three candidates have answered them.  My answers are posted here too.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for the district when it comes to meeting state and federal education standards?

Washington State is in the process of implementing the Common Core standards for Math and English.  The standards must be adopted in order to be able to receive federal funding.  In 2012-13, federal funding accounted for 8.6% of revenues.   The biggest challenge is to be able to implement the new standards within the existing funds.  Additionally, the Common Core testing results are expected to be lower than the assessment to the current standards – and potentially can feed the public perception that our schools are failing.
I understand that the community and the legislature need to know that learning is being accomplished and that the public funds are being well spent.  Standards and the corresponding standardized assessments meet this objective.  However, I believe assessment is best accomplished in the classroom where the teacher can directly use the information to achieve student learning.  Success on testing is just a metric not the goal.  The goal is to provide instructional experiences that meeting the unique needs of every student.

What can the NKSD do better to prepare students for life after they graduate from high school?

Since only 81% of NK students actually graduate from high school, I would like to re-phrase the question to talk about what NKSD can do to better prepare all students, not just graduates, for life.  I would like to increase the graduation rate and the number of graduates that go to college.  I would also like to see the increase of opportunities for students to gain skills that can be used to get employment or build a living.  So beyond earning-resources-to-be-self-sufficient, all students at NK should be actively participating in the community based on their understanding of how to be citizens and how to live and advocate their values.  NKSD needs to provide a broad range of educational opportunities that leverage our region’s strengths for the benefit of the students and our community.

Looking back on the Breidablik closure process, what would you have done differently?

I followed the school closure process by reading the information posted on-line as it was available, which included the results of the school closure committee meetings and the information that was compiled by the district to support the committee.  While the outcome may not have been affected, I would have liked to see better definition of the criteria the committee used and a review of the data presented to ensure its accuracy.  I agreed with the district’s approach to holding public meetings at multiple locations to hear community reactions.  The district did orchestrate the implementation of the new boundaries and the corresponding process to have families submit requests for attendance at out-of-boundary schools well.  Once the closure decision was made, it would be helpful do some public outreach about how the district was going to ensure that the configuration of the new schools would be celebrated and everyone would be welcomed.

Questions and Candidates’ Answers are Posted on Vote411

The League of Women Voters invited me to participate in their on-line ballot – that provides voters information from all candidates running.  Go to the website and compare responses.

My answers are listed below:

Why did you decide to run for this position?
I have always had an interest in schools and the desire to help improve their performance.  I am interested in deriving a strategy that meets the needs of the community and provides effective student learning experiences, which is the main objective of public K-12.  I want to contribute and give back to the community that has served my family well.  My two children have attended NK, my son is currently a senior in Kingston High School and my daughter is a senior at Willamette University.

Of three major issues facing your district, which one is the most urgent?
The most urgent issue is public trust and support.  NK is having a levy election this year, and 6 years of shrinking budgets have resulted in program cuts.  I believe this trust can be restored through community engagement and developing strategic objectives.  Improved communication will strengthen public trust and begins at public school board meetings.  Decisions should not be considered complete until all perspectives and impacts have been considered and the public understands the rationale.

How will you ensure excellent physical facilities for your students?
In the last couple of months, North Kitsap has emergency expenditures – replace the phone system for $300K and repair Vinland roof for $440K.   As a board member, I would ask for a 5-10 year plan.  The plan would include repairs and maintenance of existing facilities; identify future facility projects, and define computer and technology needs.  A physical facility and technology plan would ensure that support and funding could be allocated and provided and emergency repairs can be avoided.

What is your position on testing of your students?
The best assessment is accomplished in the classroom where the teacher can directly use the information to achieve student learning.  I understand that the community and the legislature need to know that learning is being accomplished and that the public funds are being well spent and that this objective is met through standardized testing.  However, success on testing is just a metric not the goal.  Having broad learning-experiences and opportunities meets our students’ needs is the goal.

How should civics education be provided?
I believe that civics education should be provided in a variety of methods.  At NK, the graduation requirements include CIVICs requirement.  I advocate incorporating CIVICs throughout the curriculum. Student government and leadership opportunities in secondary education promote the concepts of CIVICs.  My dream is that all students at NK understand how to be citizens and actively participate in the public processes that are around them to advocate their values.

How should the on-time graduation rate be improved?
My belief is that all students should graduate, but I am less concerned “on-time.”  While the alternative school, called Spectrum, no longer exists at North Kitsap, the district still has funding associated with alternative education learning.  Serving students that do not fit into the traditional classroom is necessary for NK.   As a board member, I would ensure that the alternative learning program has clear objectives and that the budget supports the community’s identified need.

How should bullying be addressed?
Bullying is an issue that is addressed in the district policies.  The policies should be clear and support actions that ensure that a safe school environment is maintained.  While executing the policy is within every district employee’s duties, the main responsibility lies with school principals.  These folks should be adequately trained and policies should be periodically evaluated to ensure that they are effective for managing bullying at North Kitsap.

South Kitsap’s New Superintendent Lays Out Communication Plan

Reduction in the number of teachers, larger class sizes for next year, and weakened public trust are common themes shared by North Kitsap and South Kitsap School Districts.  An article in the Kitsap Sun describes Dr. Michelle Reid’s plan.  The approach includes: face-to-face meetings, forums, social networking and posting documents to the district’s website.  What can North Kitsap leverage from this approach?

Candidates Forum – check!

It was a great evening at Poulsbo City Hall with attendance of 75 citizens.  The League of Women Voter’s conducted the forum.  It was very professional and written questions were collected from the audience and then asked of each candidate.  If you missed it, BKAT will broadcast it on July 19th at 10:30am, July 20th at 11 am, July 21st at 7 pm, or July 24th at 10 am!

Kitsap Sun has posted an article on the forum.  Check it out!


Come Tomorrow – Candidate’s Forum in Poulsbo

I will be participating in the League of Women Voter’s Candidate Forum at 6:30 on July 16, 2013 at Poulsbo City Hall, 200 NE Moe St, Poulsbo. Please come to ask questions, listen, and support the democratic process.  If you miss it, BKAT will tape it and broadcast later.  I’ll be sure to let you know when.

Question & Answer: Highly Capable Program

QUESTION:  Could you talk a bit about how you see NKSD adjusting to the newly revised Highly Capable WACs and how you envision the district servicing its gifted community? — Deborah Simon

ANSWER: I reviewed a summary of the new WAC’s prepared by Gayle Pauley, OSPI, Direction of Title 1/LAP & CPR. (See link.)  This describes that districts will be able to use categorical and basic education funds to provide access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction for its highly capable students.  I also know that highly capable programs are part of the state’s definition of basic education, which means that it is the responsibility of NK and all Washington School Districts to provide highly capable programs.  The administrative rules prescribe a board-approved annual plan and an annual report.  As board member, I will provide a thorough review and ensure that the program meets the needs of our students.  I look forward to learning more about NK’s current program.

I have experience with the Highly Capable program at NK from 1999 to 2007 — because my daughter was a participant.  In 2000, I sat on the interview committee, at request of Suquamish Principal, Joe Davalos, as a parent representative and we hired Mrs. Ellie Wrigley into the program.  I’ll also participated in a committee to explore changes to the program later on.  Changes we researched included revised identification methods, exploring differentiation in the regular classrooms and eliminating the self-contained classroom in first grade.

Question & Answer: NK Reduction in Force

QUESTION: I was wondering if you could share with us how you would have approached the reduction in force decision the board made in May? – Randy Borek

ANSWER: Three things (or four because the second item has two parts) that could really be rolled up into COMMUNICATION – 1) provide strategies and organizational objectives as an input to staffing decisions, 2.a) relate the proposal to the need (i.e., forecasted student numbers), 2.b) identify potential negative impacts to organizational objectives and measures and provide mitigating actions, and 3) provide a prioritized list of what would be added, if funding were larger than predicted.

Considering the benefit of hindsight, it is always easier to comment on what you would have done after you have seen the current outcome and response.  What is significant, is that the community was suprised and upset by the reductions particularly those to the music and ASL program.  The proposed staffing approach apparently was related to the resignation of a beloved, talented band teacher.  This is clearly an un-intended consequence of a conservative approach where the staffing level assumed no additional funding from the state over the prior budget.  The various legislative proposals at the time ranged between $1 and $2 million more was coming to North Kitsap than in the prior year.  Possibly, a more moderate approach such as assuming the lowest predication of additional state funding might have prevented this loss. Maybe, a lesson for next time…

The important question is what should be done for the next budget cycle? First, have strategies and defined organizational objectives to use as a basis.  The strategies are derived from community need, current challenges and advantages, and organizational competencies.  Given what I have heard from the community so far, these strategies should include a vibrant music program, smaller class size in elementary schools, and a broad range of classes/opportunities for secondary students.  Secondly, let our practitioners/experts (i.e., principals, program leaders, educators) define educational systems and processes that result in our desired outcomes.

Note: while our enrollment is declining the amount that the state provides per student will increase over the next five years.  The biennium state funding just passed last weekend (June 30th) just narrowly avoiding state shutdown represents an increase of 11.4% from the last budget.  So the really, important question for NK School District is where is NK going to apply these increases as they currently have been planning for no increase.  Board Meetings are scheduled for July 11 and August 22.  There is a special Budget meeting scheduled on August 8th.  Now, is the opportunity to use these resources to build a better district as we serve a smaller smaller student body.

How many more miles?

At the race start with friend, Anne Coupe.

At the race start with friend, Anne Coupe.

It was a fun morning July 4th in Kingston for the annual fun run with distances of 1 mile, 5K and 10K.  I logged 6.2 miles running – with the campaign sign.  It was a great run!  Thanks to Greg Fox for keeping pace and all the encouragement from fellow runners.  West Sound Tri Club’s Amanda and Chad showed their support by wearing campaign orange.


CONGRATULATIONS! to Mary Lou Macala of Kingston Middle School and her six students that won the honor of competing in National History Day in Maryland on June 9-13.  Andrew Simon won 2nd Place in the Nation for his historical paper “The Trans-Alaska Pipeline:  A Struggle for Balance”.