Report from Aug. 21 South Kitsap School Board Meeting

If you happened to miss last night’s South Kitsap Board Meeting at SKHS, see below for details and photos and feel free to add your own reactions, experiences on the comment section. If you were there and you just want the skinny, here it is:  We are bargaining and have mediators on hand to help today. We are open to bargaining up until our deadline which is Sunday, Aug. 25 at noon. The reason we have a deadline then is so we can get what we have out to our membership so you can review before our Aug. 26 meeting at 4:30. You may want to come a bit earlier than the 4:30 start time to sign in for the “members only” meeting. See below for photos and more.

 Sea of Red

SKEA members showed up clad in red about half an hour before the meeting to hand out pencil flyers to parents and other community members before the board meeting began. According to our sources, some 200 SKEA members were there. There were about 270 people there all together. 

  • If you were a speed reader, you might have caught some of the report given by Chief Financial Officer Sandy Rotella. While we know she was rushing through because they wanted to hear from the people in the audience, she might have slowed down enough so those who were there could actually see what was written on the slides.
  • Board Member Kathryn Simpson put forth a proposal requiring that we have money to cover 50 days of payroll. Let’s see . . . that would mean the district would have to have more than $10 million on hand “just in case…” Hmmm . . . keep more than 10 million dollars that is supposed to be used for students sitting around just in case of a huge catastrophe. Interesting concept. We thing the money ought to be used where it is meant to be used – in schools and to help student achievement.
  • When people in the audience did get the chance to air and share, most talked about the one issue that is holding this settlement up – you guessed it – class sizes. Teachers spoke about the negative impact huge classes have on students. They talked about split classes and why we need to stop that practice. They talked about how sad they are not to be able to  give students the individual attention they deserve.
  • Parents weighed in. Some were angry. Some were very, very angry. They threatened to pull students out of our schools. Most simply share our concerns – large class sizes.
  • Media reports:
  • Stay in touch with one another. We will give you lots of information that will answer many questions on Aug. 26.
  • Photo montage below.

Photo gallery

SKEA members, at last night’s meeting, created a sea of red and a strong showing of solidarity.Image

Members spoke with newspaper and TV reporters to share why they took time to attend last night’s meeting.Image

Members handed out flyers with information about class sizes and a back-to-school pencil. The flyers were the same that were handed out to 3,000 community members on Saturday.Image

SKEA members, parents and students filled the SKHS auditorium.Image

SKEA President John Richardson and the team are working countless hours to try to reach a settlement before the Aug. 25 deadline. He says that last night’s numbers, reported by Sandy Rotella, don’t make sense and wonders how she is crunching them. He welcomes the opportunity to sit down with her to find out more about her methodology.Image

Bargaining team member and high school counselor Mary Hawksley says scheduling is always difficult but that this year’s chaos has become a nightmare. She told members it is no wonder our district is losing students to Vashon, Bremerton and Central Kitsap schools where class sizes are smaller and students know what classes are consistently going to be available.Image

Hidden Creek Elementary teacher Maureen Dawson said she couldn’t help but wonder exactly what, in the proposed Executive Limitation Policy, it means if someone like the superintendent fails to disclose major budget development assumptions. What exactly does a major budget development assumption mean? She was not the only person in the room who is looking for the board to clarify what they mean.Image

Larry Nelson brought up evidence that shows that SKEA’s budget numbers and predictions have been historically much more accurate than those being shared by the district.Image

Parent Mike Shaw said it was time for the board to get its act together. He asked what the plan was to help alleviate class size issues.Image

Counselor Karen Little tried to help board members understand the reality she is dealing with in scheduling. She told them she is being forced to put students in larger classes and to give them fewer classes. She says what was the maximum has now become the minimum at Marcus Whitman Jr. High.Image

Math teacher Greg Johnson shared his expertise with board members reminding them that budget predictions are based on best guesses at best and that the district numbers do not match the number of teachers laid off.Image

Kim Waterman spoke eloquently about how placing students in split classes is not fair to students.Image

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2 thoughts on “Report from Aug. 21 South Kitsap School Board Meeting

  1. The ultra-conservative financial policy of having 10 million+ dollars in reserve is not the best thing for our community and school district. What’s the point of a perfect state financial score if our students are subjected to huge classes? Taxpayers expect government to responsibly use the money they are entrusted with. Responsible use includes saving AND spending. Personally, if I decided a huge savings account is more important than necessities, and put extra cash into savings without paying my mortgage, I would be labeled irresponsible. I was glad to hear from parents last night and see the huge turn out of teachers and staff.

    Side note: Kathryn Simpson recently wrote in support of the more than 5% raise the board approved for the superintendent. She justified it with mentioning the raise teachers have received during the past 5 years. Really? What raise is that? The salary schedule? I MIGHT consider that a raise if all teachers got increasing salary each year, but those at the end of the pay scale do not, SO IT’S NOT A RAISE. We have lost money each year as a fault of the legislature. It is because of false and misleading comments like this that the perception of “greedy teacher” continues. Teachers are asked to do more with less each year, and we have. Enough is enough.

  2. Our school board needs to stop acting like CEO’s and start acting more like the stewards of a public institution they were elected to be. SCHOOLS ARE NOT BUSINESSES!

    Draconian solutions in support of arbitrary benchmarks and austerity are solutions to imagined problems which don’t actually exist.

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