Please Come to Candidate Forum – Monday, October 7th

The League of Women Voters and co-sponsors, the NAACP and the Kitsap Historical Society are hosting a Poulsbo City Council and North Kitsap School Board forums on Monday,  October 7th at 6:00pm.  The event will take place in the meeting room at Poulsbo City Hall.   The forum will be divided into two sessions with city council and mayoralty candidates from 6 to 7pm and School Board candidates from 7:15 to 8:15.

Usually in such forums, candidates are given two minutes to make an opening statement.  After all candidates have spoken, the moderator asks questions submitted in written form by the audience.  All candidates will have an opportunity to respond to each question.  Before the final statements, the moderator may allow candidates an extra minute to respond to another’s comments or to elaborate on an issue.   At the end of the forum, each candidate will have two minutes to make a closing statement.  The forum will be taped and aired by BKAT in its entirety.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization and does not support or oppose candidates.  By organizing forums, the League seeks to encourage Americans to become informed voters and active citizens.

Answers to Questions from NKEA

Why are you seeking the position of School Board Director in NKSD?

I am seeking this position, because I want to serve the community that has served my family.  I’ll bring perspective and effort to the district.  Regarding perspective, I’ll bring a systems view, where measures are used to build system understanding to make changes to best meet desired outcomes with minimal unintended consequences.  I have a Masters in Systems Management and experience examining organizations using a conceptual and comprehensive model to promote performance excellence. Regarding effort, I have been preparing by attending school board meetings, talking with people, and reading policies and state guidelines.

Describe your past commitment to, and involvement in, public schools.

I have been an NK parent for 15 years – this year is the 16th and it will be my last year as a parent.  I’ve been involved in the schools in the following ways:

  • I was invited to serve on the selection committee that hired Mrs Ellie Wrigley for the Agate Program Teacher for 1-2 after Mrs Vesey, a popular teacher, left.
  • When Children’s World announced that on-site day care was closing at North Kitsap in the late spring of 2001, I advocated with the district to get a replacement citing that it was vitally important for our families.  While the district was concerned, they were not able to do much.  I called Joanna Carlson of Martha & Mary Kids Services to plead for help.  They had been considering this as a future expansion, and because of the need they stepped in immediately and starting offering services at all NK elementary schools.  It was not a perfect start, but it just improved with time – a testament of the quality organization it is.  Now 12 years later, it is going.  I spoke with Terri McCutcher last week and the program is still strong.
  • I collected signature for I-728 in the 1990’s that led to more state funding and smaller class sizes (for a while.)
  • I was involved in the evaluation of Richland School District and Lynden School District using the Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Criteria.  This resulted in a comprehensive report on 21 items that provides a pathway to organizational excellence.
  • I participated on the 2012-14 Budget Committee for North Kitsap that was led by Patty Page.  The group  composed of district administrators, representatives from professional bargaining units, and community members  developed a community survey to define educational priorities.

Discuss enrollment decisions involving your own children and family.

My son is a Senior at Kingston High School and he attended Kingston Middle School and Suquamish Elementary.  He was the first class to go from 5th grade in the elementary school to 6th grade in the middle school.  He remembers it as being cheated out of a year of recess.  My daughter attended Suquamish Elementary and then Kingston Junior High.  She was fortunate to be a part of the Agate Program, and went to state for National History Day passing up a Kingston Junior High band trip to Disneyland.  After two weeks in 9th grade at Kingston Junior High, she followed several fellow students to Bainbridge High School, where her Dad lives.  She was looking for opportunities for Honor’s English and HS electives that were not available at Kingston Jr High.  I would have preferred that she continued in North Kitsap, where the quality was good and where she had established friendships.  But ultimately having her go where she wanted to be was what was in her best interest, and she thrived.

What are your top five objectives if elected to the Board? 

First – Develop a shared vision, focus and strategy for the district that is derived
from the community and meets the needs of all students.  This shared vision will be used to guide all decisions and funding priorities.  Establish a “dashboard” of key measures that are reported regularly and show performance toward district  goals. Potential dashboard measures are: percentage of classes at contract levels, instructional hours, results of surveys of families going to other districts, graduation rates, test scores, categorical program effectiveness, backlog of facility maintenance, and levy dollar expenditures by program.

Second – Advocate for the passage of the levy.  This funding represents 22% of the district revenue.  It’s too important.

Third – Improve transparency where all perspectives and impacts are considered before decisions are made.  Primarily, this will be done by asking good questions and contributing to board discussions.  In my opinion, the decision is not made until those in the audience at the board meeting understand why the decision was made.

Fourth – Engage the community. Re-establish community board committees to gather important community input on district programs.  Two potential committees are: district wide committee on improving music and art programs and levy scoping.

Fifth – Measure board effectiveness with an annual survey based on the standards as defined by WSSDA, which are provide responsible governance, have high goals for student learning, create conditions for success, hold district accountable to meet expectations, and engage community and represent their values.

What would be your highest educational priorities for our school district?

My highest educational priorities for the district are: ensuring that we have success for all students.  Not all children are high achievers or college bound.  Not all students love music, art or athletics.  One solution does not work for all students.  I would like the district to provide learning experiences that capture the passions of all students.  I would like the district where 100% earn their high school diploma.  I would like to be surrounded by a community of engaged and active people who are living life with joy and sharing that joy with their neighbors.

I realize that this response is not very concrete, because I am not a practitioner of education.  I am a chemical engineer and a leader.  In my future board member role, I will be one voice in five that provides vision, hires and evaluates the superintendent, approves the hiring of staff, and approves the budgets that have been prepared by the staff.  I expect the district administration, teachers and staff – the education practitioners—to create and operate our educational system.   As a board member, I will fund programs that are effective in meeting the districts mission and educational objectives.  I will promote the use of measures to build understanding so that we know what works and can reproduce it.

What do you believe are the purposes and responsibilities of School Board Directors?

The purpose and responsibility of school board directors is set by Washington State laws.  Schools boards are the governance structure set by the state to manage public funds.  The WSSDA is the professional organization that ensures the elected representatives have the education and resources needed to succeed.  Ultimately, the board’s purpose, and mine as a board member, is to be good stewards of the public money the state has provided to North Kitsap School District to educate the students living within our boundaries.  According to the Quality Education Council, this money is used to:

  • Provide Basic Education, which is defined as developing knowledge and skills to prepare students for post-secondary education, gainful employment (or be legal income earners) and citizenship.  I added the words in parentheses, because I found “gainful employment” to be too limited.  I don’t think employment is the only way to be successful.
  • Eliminate the achievement gap for minorities and disadvantaged.
  • Reduce student drop-out rates.

In order to accomplish the above, the school board sets vision and focus, hires and evaluates the superintendent, approves district staff, establishes a budget and engages the community.

How do you see balancing the concerns of individual constituency groups for the greater good of the district?

Balancing the concerns of individual constituency groups is simple in concept, but more difficult in practice because of the limitations of resources.  The concept is simple. First, consider all perspectives and impacts of the change or decision.  Second, communicate the diversity of the perspectives and communicate what the anticipated impacts will be.  Third, decide and vote for action that is in the best interest of the district as a whole.  Lastly, follow up with evaluation and measures of the effectiveness to ensure that the districts objectives are being met.   Ideally, following this approach will systematically result in a system where everyone is satisfied and everyone is contributing to a system that is succeeding in its mission.

What are the top three educational reforms or district initiatives that you believe would most improve teaching and learning in our schools?

The top three education reforms or initiative that I believe will most improve teaching and learning are:

  • Teacher and Principal Evaluation.  While this system is labor intensive, it provides a rich set of information based on objective evidence that can be used to improve teaching.  Quality of instruction produces good educational outcomes.  Implementing this will allow NK to systematically develop better teachers, which is good for everyone.  As with any evaluation system, beware of attaching high consequences in the name of accountability.  A good evaluation system that delivers actionable information to teachers to improve skills and outcomes will be adopted for the individual’s intrinsic reward.
  • Common Core.  This will establish national standards and non-proprietary, free curriculum and materials.  In my world view, Common Core will free-up teacher’s limited time and attention to focus on day-to-day, student-by-student assessment and intervention and learning.
  • I reserve this third choice for later.  While I have been working hard to become knowledgeable about education, it is a very complex system and I am still learning.  Thankfully, the educational system is designed and operated by the district staff.  So for this third reform or initiative, I say that I am listening and open to understand all reforms and initiatives.  If they are getting repeatable and measureable results, then let’s work to deploying them for more benefit system-wide.

Are there areas within the NKSD budget where you believe too much or too little money is being spent?  If so, where and why?

I do not know where too much or too little money is being spent.  I think the better question is how can the district be doing things differently to better use the funding to accomplish our goals?

I participated on the budget committee last year and had the benefit of exploring the district budget and where the district has come from.  The reality is that the budget has been shrinking for the last six years.  The approach to the budget cuts was to look at expenditures line-by-line and cut.  This resulted in significant decreases in central administrative staff, less teachers, specialists spread too thin, Spectrum is gone, facility maintenance ignored, art nearly gone, less course choices for HS and fund balance depleted.  The committee realized that continued cutting in the same line-by-line manner will be un-connected and in-effective.  The committee devised and conducted a survey to identify the community priorities to better focus on what needs to be done not on what can be cut.  This was a first step, and I would like to continue that work and develop a community driven vision and focus.  Once this is established, the district staff can be challenged to design systems and programs that use the limited resources to meet the defined objectives.

Are there any specific changes that you want to make to the courses, programs, or curriculum offered in our district?  If so, what and why?

I don’t have specific changes to courses, programs or curriculum.  In concept, I would support changes that would better match community interests, our current environment and the society that we live in and meet our educational objectives.

But I have brainstormed a list of potential changes, based on my own world view.  I make no claim that these are good ideas.  Please note, that actual changes will be carefully considered before implementation.  –

  • More opportunities for visual and performing arts and creativity – dancing!
  • The shipyard just announced that it is hiring 1000 people.  NKSD should be developing the knowledge and skills in students that this local employer needs and wants.
  • Career and Technical Education has the requirement to stay relevant with the changes in technology and jobs by program reviews and participation from the related career communities.  I encourage that other course offerings model this approach to stay relevant.
  • Learning based in competency as opposed to accomplishing a set amount of work.  Ideally, this could be paced for each individual student and not by the calendar.
  • Opportunities for self-designed study for credit that takes advantage of our local community competencies and talent matched with student interests.
  • Take advantage of societal shift towards healthy food.  Emphasize vegetable consumption and reduce sugar and carbohydrate consumption. Encourage local production of food.
  • Participatory sports and activities for the joy of life-long participation and not necessarily optimized for the identification of talent.  Triathlon.  CrossFit. P90X. Ultimate Frisbee. Open water swimming.
  • Flipped classes where the homework is to watch videos of lectures and the class work is spent on interaction with groups and teachers working with students to advance understanding.
  • Building adolescents that are resilient, and strong to avoid dangerous behaviors.  Suicide prevention.  WEB at KMS. 40 Developmental Assets. Yoga. Driver skills and training – based on car handling at the “edge-of-adhesion.”
  • Mobilize to improve our environment.  Help eradicate invasive plant species that are threatening our forests. Understand storm-water run-off and the hazards to local waterways.
  • Build safer communities by making personal connections rather than building secure fortresses.

What do you see as the school district’s role in supporting and educating students from high poverty, English Language Learners, and students with unique learning challenges?

It’s in the district’s education mission to close the education gap for students from poverty and for English Language Learners.  Additionally, special education students and students with unique learning challenges (not in special education) must be educated.  Categorical funding is provided for these purposes and must be accounted for by law.  It is the district’s responsibility to use that funding in a manner that serves these needs.  I expect that the district would be able to provide educational solutions that are effective.  I expect the district to be improving and adjusting their educational solutions to make them more effective, based on collected measures and facts.

My response is more general that I would like it to be.  As a board member, I will work with program administrators to better understand the programs and help advocate for improvements.

Primary Results Announced – 46.5% for Worthington

THANKS! for all the support and hard work from those supporting my candidacy.  I look forward to more campaigning for the general election.  My aim to is to talk with the community to propose a community-driven strategy for NKSD this fall.  Let’s get to work!

Results from all Kitsap County elections are posted on-line.  These will be updated as all ballots are processed.

Kitsap Sun article on the primary results.

NK Publishes Proposed Budget – What is the impact?

North Kitsap School District has published their budget for 2013-14 school year in advance of a public hearing scheduled for August 8th from 7:00-9:00 at the district office.  The public is also welcome to attend a study session on the budget that will be held prior to the hearing from 6:00 – 7:00.

The following are my questions to the district regarding the 2013-14 budget.  What are your questions?  Forward them to the district and attend the public hearing.

Regarding increased state funding –

Information:  The July 11, 2013 presentation included increased state funding for MSOC of $960K and for Transportation of $308K.  Presumably, the district spends more than the states allocation for MSOC and Transportation and uses other funds (i.e., levy) to make up the difference.

Conclusion:  There will be an equivalent amount of money ($906K + $308K = $1.214M) to spend on other district priorities.

Question:  Where is the $1.214M being allocated for next year?

Regarding staffing—

Information: The July 11, 2013 presentation indicated that the net decrease in Certificated FTE is 8.5.  Therefore, the proposed total Certificated FTE is expected to be 345.8 for 2013-14, which is 354.3 FTE of the current level presented on May 6 less 8.5. It was stated that this 8.5 reduction in FTE from last year is matched by the expected enrollment decline.

Question: Could you provide an update to 2013-2014 Proposed Educational Program that was prepared by Chris Willits dated May 6, 2013?

Conclusion: Since the reduction in 8.5 FTE is matched to the predicted decline in enrollment of 200 students, nominally, the community should expect that class sizes will not be increased over last year’s levels.

Question: Could you provide your estimate of the expected class sizes for next year?

Information:  The July 11,2013 presentation indicated that Wolfle K-1 will be staffed higher than what it was last year at a targeted class size of 20 – due to availability of state funding for that specific purpose.  Additionally because of state funding, there will be an increase in LAP staffing.

Question: How is staffing going to increase for LAP?  Is that allocated to the schools?

Conclusion: Since the district had already realized their proposed reduction in staffing of 27.3 FTE, it would be expected that hiring will occur before next year.   Nominally, that would be (27.3-8.5=18 FTE).

Question: What have you determined are the positions that need to be hired for next year?

Regarding Fund Balance –

Information:  The board adopted a resolution 07-12-13 on April 11, 2013 to systematically, over-time increase the fund balance.  The proposed level for the end of 2013-2014 is 3.5% – which is 0.5% larger than the fund balance for the end of this year.  The presentation made on July 11, 2013 indicates that the size of this committed fund balance is $1.863 M for the end of this year and $2.229 M for the end of next year.

Questions:  How is the fund balance calculated (percentage of what)?  Is this projected to be met?  Why is this important?

Regarding Maintenance/Equipment Costs –

Information:  The board voted on July 11, 2013 to replace the roof at Vinland Elementary for an expected cost of $447K.  The Preliminary Budget also presented on July 11, 2013 shows a budget of $1.603M for 64 Activity of Maintenance of Buildings/Equipment.

Question:  How will the Vinland Roof Repair impact the 2013-2014 budget?

Question:  Is there a dictionary that includes definition of the various activities used in the budget?  Can you provide that?

Question:  What is the basis for the districts building maintenance budget?  Are their predictions of future roof repairs?

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!


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.