An open letter to the NK School Board

I got this via email just a few minutes ago:

Dear North Kitsap School Board,

 We would like to express our thanks to you for your recent work on the school district’s budget, in cooperation with the district’s Budget Advisory Team and the Citizens’ Budget Review Committee. From observing the last board meeting and the minutes and reports on it, we can see that this is not an easy task, nor is the work finished. We feel that much more information is needed, as well as time to review that information, and to come up with clear answers to the many questions that are still pending about the proposed budget.

 We appreciate the fact that the School Board has the final authority in this district, which has been invested in you by law. You are our community’s representatives, elected to make decisions based upon the best, most complete information. Supporting your rights and responsibilities as our school board is very important to those of us in your community – we know that you are our voice.

 Thank you for standing up and asserting your rights in the recent board meeting. We support your stand in favor of placing an administrator in the position of principal at Suquamish Elementary School, rather than hiring a new principal. This was also the Citizen’s Budget Committee’s recommendation, and we applaud Mr. Strickland’s stand under the law that states that the school board has final approval of such decisions. We wonder, in light of discussion in the recent school board meeting, whether the North Kitsap school district administration is clear on the laws and policies regarding the limits of its power.

 Has the board had adequate time to completely review and discuss the Citizen’s Budget Committee’s recommendations and the Budget Advisory Team’s recommendations, and incorporate them into the proposed budget? If this has been done, where would the public find the complete, detailed budget documents that reflect the school board’s input? We (the paying public) need to see a line-itemized budget, and we need time to review it and ask questions.

 The administration needs to answer many questions before asking for a vote on this budget. There is no way to intelligently vote on a budget that has not been clearly revealed and explained to those who are bound by law to fund it. Please do not act on the budget until your questions, and our community’s questions, are fully and specifically answered.

 We suggest a special board meeting be scheduled between now and August 26th, so that you can ensure that your directions to the administration have been followed, and so that the school board can vote on any further changes to be made, before you approve the final budget. This would allow for true transparency in the process.

 We recommend that all district travel be eliminated for the school year 2010-11. We oppose the administration asking for, or receiving, an increase in its benefits package, when our teachers are being asked to take cuts in their compensation. Our administration needs to lead by example, and take the same compensation cuts that they are asking the teachers to take. We would like to see “less administration, and more teachers” for our classrooms.

 Does the school board feel sure that we have achieved all the cuts we can afford, without sacrificing the quality of education in our district? If not, please continue to work on the budget until you are satisfied with it. You have our support in this.

 Does this budget support the school board’s and district’s Guiding Principles and their Strategic Goals & Plan? What are the board’s and the public’s priorities according to those principles, goals and plan? Have these changed from the 2008-2009 Strategic Goals that are posted on the district’s website?

 We respect you as the employer and manager of the school district’s administration. They work for YOU, and for US. Thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of this community’s children, and for listening to us, your constituents. You have our full support as you continue to lead with the strength that you have shown recently, and as you ask every question that occurs to you about the administration’s budget plans. This is a vital part of the democratic process, and it will benefit the entire community to hear the answers to your (and our) questions. You have been endowed and entrusted with this right, and we need you to do this on our behalf.


 Gregg & Karen Gerstenberger

Camille & John Hattrick

Pam Pedersen & Rob Thomas

Catherine Ahl

Renee Arcement

Irene & Brad Lougheed

Jacqueline Hatzenbuehler

Laurice Riekki

Randy & Theresa Mitchell

Denise Vestman

One thought on “An open letter to the NK School Board

  1. Excellent letter. Keep the pressure on. Because the school district administration mentality (in more than just NK) is to only cut this year what is needed to maintain as much status quo operations as possible. This should not be the case. With the cliff coming in 2011-2012 districts need to make as many reductions NOW until they are as lean as possible going in.

    I attended the Bremerton School Board Meeting last night. I was happy to see several members of the school board ask some rather in depth questions about the budget from the finance director. That despite the administration labeled “conservative” measures to keep excess money in many departments as a pad (and much harder to track by the budget committee) and the “hope” from administration for future federal and state monetary intervention, the current members of the Bremerton School Board were not lulled or soothed away from the cold hard fact that they will most likely be smack in the middle of the battle for the districts very financial survival once the “cliff” arrives.

    The only negative note of the evening was that they did agree to go forward with a Limited General Obligation Bond for 2010. Going for the bond is not the problem. The problem is that by NOT fully listening to and implementing more of the recommendations by the District Finance Committee and this community for the past two years, combined with the fact that the Superintendent refuses to make ANY reductions in the top heavy Administration staffing numbers and its budgeted money, put this district in the position to need the Limited General Obligation Bond in the approximate amount of $497,000 right now. It did not need to be this way. Additional cuts without compromising services could have been made to obtain the amount needed and no taxpayer money for “interest” on a loan would have been spent.

    Bremerton is very much watching what you guys are doing up here in NK. This letter validates a whole lot of points that were systematically dismissed by Bremerton Administration as not being representative of the taxpaying public at large. They wanted very much to believe that those of us serving as citizens in Bremerton and our ideas and expectations were some sort of rare anomaly that does not occur anywhere else. By writing and submitting this letter to NKSD your group has very much helped and empowered those of us in other districts who are conducting the same type of work and reform.

    Thanks again.

    Colleen Smidt

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