Answers to Hansville Voters Questions

As the election nears, I am pleased to answer questions from voters.  This large set of questions came from two voters from Hansville.  My answers are posted here.

What is the highest priority of North Kitsap schools?

The highest priority for NK School District is to establish priorities that are derived from community needs, based on effective approaches, and build on the competencies of our district.  I know that sounds a like I am dodging this question, but I participated in last year’s budget committee and it was not clear what the priorities should be.  The state did come through with additional funding for the school year and the district used it primarily to re-establish the staffing cuts that were made when they were expecting no additional funding per student from the state and a predicted decline in enrollment.

During my campaign, I have prepared by talking to the community and learning about the district and how the state funds education.  From what I have heard and learned, these are the priorities that I would advocate for:

  • Staffing levels that support student learning.
  • Rebuilding a vibrant music and arts community
  • Rebuilding the alternative learning program

In one sentence, why are you running for school board?

I would like to serve my community by applying my systems’ perspective, experience and energy to improve the school district to provide learning experiences for all students.

Do you support lowering class size? Why? Can you cite data that proves the cost versus benefits?

I do support lower class sizes.  My belief is that students learn through the interaction with people.  So fundamentally increasing the time students have with teachers will improve learning.  My understanding of the data is that reducing class size improves learning – a fundamental fact.  Regarding cost realities, the current environment will not support a significant reduction class size.

Do you know how much it would cost the district overall to lower class size in every North Kitsap School District classroom? If not, are you willing to find out, give us the answer, and tell us how you would pay for it?

NK district presented the sizes of all classes at a September board meeting, and I have looked closely at the existing class sizes in two schools (so far) – KHS and KMS.  Intuitively, I think that an additional allocation of 8 teachers could make a positive impact for the district. That translates to about $600K in a $62M annual budget – which seems entirely doable within an environment of increasing state funding.  This is just a proposal.

Regarding my willingness to get answers and tell you how they will be funding, the answer is yes.  Every year the district makes a budget and determines how the funds will be allocated.  I will most definitely be willing to provide answers.  My desire for future budgets is to include measures and predicted outcomes for the budget.  For example, provide predicted class sizes and programs that are being implemented with that budget.

Does it matter if North Kitsap schools are losing enrollment? Why?

Yes, it matters.  Because state funding is provided per student, fewer students mean less funds.  In 2007-2011, nearly 500 students each year elected to go to other districts.  (Data since, 2011 has not been reported.)  500 students represent $3.8M.  Enrollment is also declining, because population is declining.  I would advocate doing interviews every year with the families that are choosing other districts to get information about why.  If we know why, then the district can decide to act on it or not.  I also advocate working with local governments to better understand growth so that enrollment predictions are accurate to support planning.  Ultimately, having a school district that meets the needs of the community will be the answer to enrollment decline.

Do you believe all teachers should be paid the same based only on years of experience and education? Do you believe this is the best way to pay them?

I think teachers should be paid what their value is in the market.  NK school district bargains with seven unions for their staff.  Tom Anderson, of the school board, sat in on the negotiations this year.  I think that is a good practice and should continue.

How would you reward the best teachers?

All teachers will be rewarded by an environment where they are valued and able to contribute to the intrinsically rewarding activity of teaching children and getting more skilled in their craft.  I would expect to create an environment where all teachers can improve and where our students are being successful.

How would you shed the ineffective teachers?

In my vision of NKSD, ineffective teachers will be transformed into effective teachers though a process of evaluation and training.  I think the focus should be on improvement of teachers and of student learning.

Do you support standardized testing? If so, what testing model would you use?

I am most interested in testing that allows teachers to know what has been learned and what hasn’t been learned.  The teachers can then manage the teaching.  I recognize that those paying the bill for education – legislators and tax payers – need to know that their money is being well-spent.  Therefore, I am for standardized tests.  I don’t particularly care which one is used.  It should represent important skills and knowledge that are required of contributing citizens.

Do you support the CORE curriculum concept? Why or why not?

Yes, I do support CORE curriculum.  In my view, it represents a predictable national standard and frees up our local resources and teachers to focus on student learning.

Do you believe the school day and total number of school days per year are adequate? Why or why not?

The existing school calendar and year was designed around a farming society.  School is done in the winter, when labor is not needed.  I advocate the redesign of this to better fit with today’s society where most of us work every day year round.  I think there are costs associated with an educational system that does not match society.  If there was a match, there would not be a discussion about the number of learning days.

Do you agree with the argument by some that we need to pay high-demand teachers more (i.e., math and science)? If so, how would you overcome opposition (primarily from the teachers union)? If not, how would you attract and keep these teachers?

I think that teacher pay should be what the market determines.  If teachers are paid what the market determines, then what would attract teachers are the culture and the environment of the school and district.  I would attract teachers by having an environment that values their contributions and their skills and allows them the intrinsic rewards of supporting student learning and improving themselves.

Do you think the arts (music, theater, art) are critical to learning? If so, how would you prioritize them compared to other subjects when budgets are tight and how would you pay for it?

The arts including music and theater are important to our community.  Integrated into schools they increase learning and tap into creative energy and passion.  I think they are in equal priority with other subjects and are defined as part of basic education.  When budgets are tight, the cuts need to be made to preserve what we can.  Partnerships with related community organizations may help – booster clubs, etc.

How would you get parents and taxpayers more involved with school decisions such as the school calendar and other policy matters (aside from PTA, PTO, inviting them to parent-teacher conferences and school events)?

I would like to re-instate board community committees for areas like music and alternative learning.  Additionally, the district involves parents and communities in many programs and decisions through advisory committees.  As a board member, I will be available to talk with citizens and parents before board meetings to hear perspectives and concerns prior to the meetings.  I conducted two study sessions prior to the budget adoption where some citizens and I looked over and discussed the proposed budget.  During meetings, I will ask questions in board meetings to ensure that all perspectives have been considered.  I also think that attendance at school events is a sign of a healthy community. As a board member, I will attend some (not all) to stay connected with the schools.

Do you believe the teachers union’s highest priority is the best interests of their students? Why?

I have talked with many teachers and do believe that they are very much invested in their students first.  However, the union’s primary job is to negotiate the contract which is looking out for the needs of their membership.  Through the negotiations, this contract should meet the needs of teachers, students and the district.

Are you willing to ask tough questions of administrators during public meetings? If so, what kinds of questions might you ask?

Generally, I am going to ask questions regarding the impacts of decisions to students, teachers and the budget.  Regarding students, I want to recognize that all students are not the same.  There are: motivated high achievers, unmotivated under performers, homeless students, addicted students, athletic students, music students, non-English language speakers, military families, Native American,  and etc.   I also value data and trends and making the linkage between how things are done and what the outcomes they produce.   I would ask questions to strengthen the connection.

At the last board meeting, Patricia Moore presented a report on McKinney-Vento Program, which is a national mandate to support homeless kids by transporting them to their home school.  I am interested in the deployment of the program (how many students’s served), the costs and the effectiveness.  She did present the number of students by grade – totally 156.  I would have asked to see what the last five years were.  She did present transportation costs for the last three years.  It is showing an increase.  I would like to have a comparison – that determines if we are doing it well.  I wondered why the increase.  She also presented the homeless student results on achievement tests.  I would have liked to see a comparison too, are those achievement results good or not.

What is the total amount per student (state and local) spent in the North Kitsap district, how does it compare to the statewide average, what level do you think would be appropriate, and why?

For this year’s 2013-2014 budget, the math is: $64,185,466 divided by 5813 students for $11,041/student.  I looked at the following resource, which is the compiled data for 2010-2011 and discovered that NK is about 12 highest for the 28 districts of similar size (between 5000 and 10000).  NK was $9235, the high was $10,271 and the low was $8,654.

The McCleary act has identified that $12,546/student is fully funded education in 2017-2018.  This data comes from  Assuming an inflation rate of 3%, fully funded education today is $11,106/student.  This seems to be a good value for basic education.

Do you advocate prayer anywhere on school property or teaching creationism in our schools? If so, why?

I support the existing policies and practices in place at NK, because they support the value of acceptance and inclusion of differences in beliefs.  Prayer is not promoted or prohibited.  I don’t believe that creationism is an equivalent to evolution as a scientific theory.  Excerpts of policies are provided below:

NK School Board Policy 2340 Religious-Related Activities and Practices states…

“As a matter of individual liberty, a student may of his/her own volition engage in private, non-disruptive prayer at anytime not in conflict to learning activities. School staff shall neither encourage, nor discourage as student from engaging in non-disruptive oral or silent prayer or any other form of devotional activity.”

While this policy is pretty clear about being neutral regarding prayer, it is also clear in NK School Board Policy on diversity, that differences in religion will be appreciation and respected. Policy 2133 Diversity Education that states…

“The board is committed to and supportive of an education of superior quality for all students that includes greater appreciation of and respect for human individuality, differences and similarities which contribute to our democratic nation as a whole, and more particularly all diverse aspects that make up our community.”

Do you believe any taxpayer money should be used to pay for sports programs? If so, how would you decide on priorities and budget allocations?

Yes.  I think that sports programs provide opportunities for our children to keep moving and be healthy.  They provide opportunities for access to higher education.  For some students, they provide the motivation to continue and engage in school.  The athletic program should be balanced with other priorities and programs.

Is there any limit to the amount of money we should spend on K-12 education?

There will always be a limit imposed by the decisions made by our legislators and local levy tax payers.  This gets decided every year for federal funds, every two years for the state money, and every four years for the levy money.  It will be my job as School Board Director to ensure that those dollars are well spent and we are constantly learning and improving to build student learning.

Common Core: Good or bad?

I got a voice message today from a voter asking about if I was for or against Common Core. She did not leave a name or a phone number, so I will answer here on my campaign blog for everyone and hope that she gets the message!

I am for Common Core. I believe a national standard allows for our students to have skills that are transferrable to anywhere in the nation. I would also hope that providing this standard will allow for our teachers to focus on ensuring that the students are actually building skills and are learning. I know those who criticize Common Core are concerned about the transition costs, losing good teachers who don’t want to change, and the actual content of the standards.  I understand these concerns, but believe these can be mitigated and make adopting Common Core and net benefit for schools.

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.

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.

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.