Seeking Second Term

After four years of being your school board director, I am even more committed to a quality public education for our North Kitsap community.  I would be honored to serve for the next four years and continue building on the success of North Kitsap District. As the state continues to grapple with ample education funding, I will continue to advocate with the legislature and build our local capacity to promote success for each and every student.  I invite you to share your experiences and your desires for our local school district with me, and together we can make it happen.

Presidential Candidate Representatives Discuss Public Education

What are the key issues in the Presidential Election around Public Education?   Ann O’Leary, Senior Policy Advisor from the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Donni Turner, Policy Analyst from the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign discuss the candidates’ education agendas during the NSBAC-sponsored Presidential Forum hosted by the Committee for Education Funding.

Watch here.

No representative from the presumptive Republican Party nominee Donald Trump participated in the forum despite repeated invitations.

Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the modernized version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) passed by Congress in December 2015 is where much of the discussion centers. Panelists discussed how best to uphold the local governance structure in the law to ensure meaningful consultations and participation from local school boards and other education stakeholders.

Both candidates are in favor of increasing the opportunity for education for all people.  Bernie Sanders’ focus is higher education and relief of tuition.  While Hillary Clinton recognizes that higher education and affordability will be on the top of the legislative agenda for the new president because legislation has already been crafted, she is also interested in early education (relief for families that are struggling with day care costs) and implementation of ESSA.

The success of public education is still impacted by poverty. The hope is that some day the success of students won’t be predicted by their families income.

It is clear that both candidate representatives that spoke believe that Local Education Authority (our school district) needs freedom to apply funds to where the LEA know it makes a difference.  My thought is that this is a good concept, but I am not sure that school districts really know what makes a difference.  We need to strengthen our link of what we do with the outcomes that result from them. – Beth Worthington, May 31, 2016


Falling off the Levy Cliff

Public schools will be facing a decrease in $480 million in 2018 due to the expiration of increased levy funding that was allowed when the state was dealing with the recession – this is called the Levy Cliff.  By failing to act this session, the Legislature will let districts fall off the cliff this time next year as they start budgeting for 2017-18. 

According to some Senators, we have seen this cliff coming for years, and since the legislature did not take action to transition earlier (today we could have been facing a “levy step” instead of a “levy cliff”) we need to bear the consequences instead of easing the burden. The consequences for North Kitsap will be a reduction in revenue of $3.87 million dollars in 2018 – and given that 85% of the budget is for staff falling off the cliff could mean staff reductions in 2017-18 school year. 

Related comments were made regarding the will of the legislature to actually take action in a timely manner in 2017 (of which there is no evidence in past practice that this will actually happen). This sentiment echoed testimony on HB 2698 from Monday (2/22) in the Senate by Dan Grimm representing OSPI who stated in no uncertain terms that the only way real action will occur is if real pain (through crisis) is felt in local school districts. If you are interested in hearing some insight into some Senators’ viewpoints on this topic, check out the hearing on 2/22 (skip ahead to 41:18 – 1:18:21) and debate on the Senate Floor on 2/26 (skip ahead to 3:43:14 – 4:05:00). The sense is that districts need to have the problem resolved by April 2017, however this is much too late for many (most) districts. Click here to learn how districts will be impacted.

Christine Rolfes Summarizes Take-Aways from Education Listening Tours

In Christine Rolfes’s Legislative Update of November 3rd, she writes, “The overarching message was loud and clear: Washington’s families are tired of waiting for the state to meet its duty to amply fund education and ensure equity of opportunity for all students — no matter where they live.”  See the update for other take-aways.

North Kitsap was represented well in the forum that was held in Bremerton.  Many teachers, district staff, and community members attended.  Our own Chris Fraser spoke as part of the panel representing the teachers union.  Cindy Webster-Martinson, Board Legislative Representative, Superintendent Patty Page, and teacher Buffy Reister as well as others spoke in the public comment period.  You can view the forum here.