PO council reappoints Putaansuu to transit board

Port Orchard City Councilman Rob Putaansuu, who was replaced on the Kitsap Transit board Tuesday morning, was reappointed to the board Tuesday night by the council as the city’s representative to the board. Putansuu will replace Mayor Tim Matthes on the board.

Putaansuu has served in the at-large position on the Kitsap Transit board since the position was created four years ago. Yesterday, in a shuffle of board members, Putaansuu was replaced by a member of the Bainbridge Island City Council.

The at-large position is meant to give representation on the board to Kitsap County’s smaller cities. Putaansuu said that two years ago when the position was open, no one else stepped up. This year Bainbridge expressed an interest in taking a turn at that role.

Other positions on the board are reserved for the three county commissioners, the mayor of Bremerton, and representatives from each of the three smaller cities. Traditionally the small city representative has been the mayor. But Putaansuu at Tuesday’s Port Orchard City Council meeting said the representative could alternately be a member of the city council chosen by the rest of the council, according to transit board bylaws.

The Kitsap Transit board discussion item came up late in the meeting. Councilman John Clauson, who is Kitsap Transit’s executive director, recused himself. Councilman Jeff Cartwright also works for KT, as human resources director, but he said he would not be stepping down.

“Although I work at Kitsap Transit, I don’t believe there’s a conflict because I report to John and John reports to the board. If there are no objections, I do plan on staying for this conversation.”

“I actually do object,” Matthes said. “I would like that you also recuse yourself and Mr. Putaansuu should recuse himself.”

Putaansuu said he didn’t see any reason to recuse himself. Cartwright, however, did step down after Councilman Fred Chang said he also thought Carwright’s presence was a conflict of interest, because actions of the board have a direct bearing on Cartwright’s job. “I’ll honor that,” Cartwright said.

The tension in the air probably stemmed in part from an earlier discussion of emails as public records in which the Mayor and Cartwright grew testy with one another.

The Mayor, as a member of the KT board, also recused himself, and Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Lucarelli took over the meeting.

Putaansuu said he is “passionate about” Kitsap Transit’s study of a fast ferry to Seattle and wants to bring a vote on the proposed service to Kitsap residents, who would help foot the bill for operation of the ferry.

“My position is we’ve spent millions of taxpayer dollars to improve technologies (for the fast ferry) and the business plan (to operate it), and we owe it to the voters to ask them whether or not they want that,” Putaansuu said.

Councilwoman Bek Ashby asked if the council could legally take action on the appointment, given that the meeting was a work study session. City Clerk Brandy Rinearson said they could.

“The rule is you cannot make a motion if it relates to an ordinance or if you’re approving a contract or a bill for payment of money at a special meeting,” she said. Since the appointment was none of the above, they could take action.

Councilman Jerry Childs talked about Putaansuu’s “historical knowledge” of the fast ferry issue and said he was in favor of the appointment.

Chang said he was against it because of the “tradition” of having the mayor represent the city on the board.

When Elissa Whittleton, a member of the audience, asked if the mayor shouldn’t be asked whether he’d like to continue serving on the board, Putaansuu replied, “The bylaws say it’s to be chosen by the city council, not the mayor.”

Putaansuu abstained from the vote. Childs, Lucarelli and Ashby voted in favor of the appointment. Chang voted no.

When Matthes returned to the meeting to find he’d been replaced on the board, he said, “It was all prearranged.”

“In a way it’s a good thing,” the Mayor added, saying now he could still attend meetings and advocate exclusively for Port Orchard’s needs.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter
chenry@kitsapsun.com
(360) 792-9219

School discipline a hot topic, no quick fix

The Kitsap County Council for Human Rights on Friday hosted a conference tackling the school-to-prison pipeline, a term that encompasses the lower graduation rates and higher incarceration rates of minority, low-income and special-needs students.

Speakers at the conference touched on many of the topics the Kitsap Sun addressed in our February series on evolving thinking about discipline nationwide and locally. Articles and blog posts in the six-day series are collected here.
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Students of color are more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers, according to discipline data shared at the conference by Tim Stensager, director of data governance for the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The same is true of low-income and special-needs students. And the conference touched on the high rates of incarceration, homelessness and suicide among LGBTQ youth.

Big data is being used to identify districts where disproportionate discipline is particularly evident, and the federal government is wielding a hammer over those that show a widespread, persistent or egregious pattern of discrimination.

But the consensus a the conference was that the solutions lie at the local and even personal level. Everyone — school staff, students, parents and perhaps most importantly members of the community at large — needs to chip away at the problem from wherever they stand.

Or as Robert Boddie, who spoke a the conference, put it, “When the train stops at your station, get on it.”
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Kelsey Scott, a Running Start senior at Central Kitsap High School, didn’t need the data to understand that black students are viewed as “different.” Scott has had fellow students question why she speaks “proper” and isn’t “rude.” Scott talked about how the bar for black students is set at once pathetically low, yet impossibly high. She is a hard-working student who avoids parties, yet she feels pressure to avoid any kind of trouble.

“I have to make sure I’m always on my best behavior, because anything I do can get blown out of proportion and it’s crazy,” Scott said. “It’s basic training. When we’re acting out, it not only reflects on how people see you, it reflects on how people see people like you.”

Durell Green, 30, of Bremerton spoke at the conference about his personal experience with the school-to-prison pipeline. A self-described book “nerd,” Green got bored and acted out in elementary school, earning the label of “disruptive,” which dogged him at every turn. First arrested at 14, he was sent to Walla Walla at 18. Today, Green works to pay back the community through work in a mentoring program at his church.

The reasons why kids get in trouble are complex, and, as a recent article in the Seattle Times pointed out, there is no easy or quick fix. But Stensager showed how some districts are defying the odds, achieving high graduation rates despite having high numbers of at-risk students. Stensager and others at the conference said there are “best practices” that have been proven to work. Here’s a summary:

— Teachers must develop relationships with students, especially the troublesome ones, many at the conference agreed. Lack of time is not an excuse, according to retired educator Patricia Moncure Thomas; it’s part of the job.
— Clearly teachers need support. That’s where the value of community mentoring programs come in. The nonprofit Coffee Oasis has been successful with outreach and mentoring of homeless and at-risk youth, said Daniel Frederick of the organization. It’s a daily battle, and it’s not easy but “There’s a story behind every single child.” Partnering for Youth Achievement, the program Green works in, and Our GEMS (Girls Empowered through Mentoring and Service), a program Scott found helpful in her life, are other examples. Boddie, who has led youth mentoring groups in Central Kitsap School District, said such programs must hold students accountable, and instill a sense of pride, respect and integrity.
— Many districts, including Bremerton and Central Kitsap, are training staff in “culturally responsive” teaching methods. Teachers and other school staff who lack understanding of cultural norms and values, may misinterpret students’ behavior or miss opportunities to connect. Boddie said locally Bremerton and CKSD are ahead of the curve in addressing the role of a cultural divide in the school-to-prison pipeline.
— While big data can diagnose the problem, schools and districts with local control are best suited to fix it, according to Joe Davalos, superintendent of education for the Suquamish Tribe. The tribe’s school, open to non-tribal members, has 80 students and weaves cultural knowledge in with academic learning. Expectations are high, defying data on Native American students. At the Suquamish school, 100 percent are expected to graduate, Davalos said.
— Districts locally and nationwide are moving toward discipline that has students take personal responsibility for their behavior and make amends. So called “restorative justice” brings the offender face to face with who he’s harmed; solutions are hashed out in person.

As we continue to cover the issue of student discipline, I’d welcome hearing from you about topics you’d like covered or experiences (positive or negative) you’ve had with local schools. Find me on Facebook, email chenry@kitsapsun.com or call (360) 792-9219. Thanks.

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun education reporter

Humane society expands feral cat trap-neuter-return program to Port Orchard

In February 2013, the Kitsap Humane society launched a program to reduce the feral cat population in Bremerton. KHS calls them “community cats.”

The method (not without its critics) is trap-neuter-return. KHS vets say it’s documented to work in gradually reducing feral, pardon me, community cat colonies.

Adult feral cats can’t be socialized for placement as pets. The past approach to eradication of feral cat colonies has been to trap and euthanize the animals. But that doesn’t work well, according to KHS veterinarian Jen Stonequist.

Because feral cats are territorial, eliminating members of the colony simply creates a void that is soon filled again by new cats – and their unchecked litters of kittens. The cats who live in these colonies are generally in poor health and carry disease.

“An effective TNR program works to stabilize the free-roaming cat population in a community by preventing new litters of unwanted kittens, and reduces feline illnesses by reducing mother-to-litter transmission and transmission by fighting,” said KHS Spokeswoman Rachel Bearbower. “It can also significantly reduce the noise and odor which arise from unaltered males fighting, mating, and marking territories.”

KHS officials estimate there are more than 2,200 feral cats in the 98366 area code, where the effort is focused.

The Community Cats Program, funded through a PetSmart grant provides live traps and training on trapping to willing neighborhood volunteers.
Adults are neutered or spayed, and given a full check up and a rabies vaccine before they are reintroduced to their preferred neighborhood. A small mark on the ear prevents repeats. Kittens are taken into the humane society for placement as pets.

Over time the colony shrinks, as the animals are unable to reproduce.

The humane society also has a litter abatement program. If your pet has had a litter, you can bring the babies (dog or cat) to KHS. They will be spayed and neutered, and placed in “forever homes.” KHS also will spay the parent free of charge and return the animal to you.

Anyone with information about feral cat colonies in the Port Orchard area, or who is interested in volunteering for the Community Cats program, is asked to contact Kitsap Humane Society at CommunityCats@kitsap-humane.org or call 360-692-6977.

Does hip hop count as PE?

Anyone who’s met Debbie Lindgren is likely familiar with her bottomless exuberance. Lindgren, physical education teacher at Naval Avenue Early Learning Center, is a die hard advocate for giving kids more chances to be active in each day.

Lindgren is quoted in a story I did for today about the importance of recess for students’ bodies and brains.

She tries every which way to get youngsters moving. In one example, she brings recess to the classroom with “brain breaks” like full-body rock-paper-scissors students can do beside their desks. Teachers at Naval Avenue are now trained to lead their students in short bursts of activity that stimulate circulation and give kids a breather.

Lindgren’s latest get-moving scheme involves hip hop dancers, lots of them. Lindgren arranged for all first through third graders to learn a dance choreographed by Erica Robinson, a co-owner with her husband Ashley of the Kitsap Admirals basketball team. The students performed the dance en masse at the Admiral’s game Saturday.
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Lindgren got the idea for a school-wide hip hop dance because of her sense that some families, in particular African American families, feel a disconnect from the school.

“At first it was just, ‘What can I do to make sure we are inclusive of every culture at our school?'” Lindgren said.

Dance seemed a good place to start.

“It appears to me that our African American kids have more opportunity, perhaps, outside of school to dance within their family structure, because they come into this with better background in dance than the majority of Caucasian students,” Lindgren said. “In PE classes when the music turns on, our African American kids, the majority of them, their movement patterns are exceptional. … I thought, what can I do to celebrate their dances, their movement, their creativity?”
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Robinson is a member of the Admirals dance team the Flight Chixx. She grew up on Soul Train and affirms Lindgren’s gut feeling.

“If you think about African Americans in this culture, you think about hip hop, you think about break dancing,” Robinson said. “Some of the greatest dancers in the country have been African American.

“I think music and dance is just the way you connect,” she said.

Think of the choirs in African American churches. Music is everywhere in black culture and always has been, Robinson said.

“If you look throughout history, you see that music has really resonated with the African American community,” she said. “Music is something that has helped us through the hard times.”

Robinson appreciates Lindgren’s impulse to shine a spotlight on the hip hop genre.

“Coming from the East Coast, we had a lot of things that celebrated black culture, Puerto Rican culture,” she said. “In Kitsap here, we don’t find a lot of that celebrated culture. There’s a lot of quieting and shunning. In celebration, if we take the time to embrace each culture, we’ll find that as a human body, we’re all the same.”

Teaching several classrooms’ worth of students a single dance was no small feat.

“You just kind of teach it in pieces,” Robinson said. “The kids pick it up a lot easier than you think. … They wanted it.”

The performance was a hit with parents.

“We had a great turnout of kiddos. It was awesome, great support,” Lindgren said.

It was so much fun. They were so cute,” Robinson said.
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And although a few beats were missed here and there, what shone through was “the joy they had as group.”

Kurt DeVoe, photographer for the Kitsap Admirals, shared these photos with the Kitsap Sun. Lindgren’s husband was the videographer.

Student bullied for speech impediment takes a stand

State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn on Wednesday used the Marysville shooting as a cautionary tale about the role of social media in young people’s lives. Kids today live in two simultaneous worlds, one real, one virtual, both intertwined.

“Social media is all around them, and many young people feel safer and are more open with Twitter and Tumblr and other channels,” Dorn said.

That’s not all bad, but it can go south quickly when rumors or compromising photos and videos get spread online.

Dorn called out cyberbullying as a potential trigger for real-life violence in schools, and he offered a tip sheet (below) for parents and school staff to help them recognize warning signs of distress or conflict online.

These are uneasy times for schools. Sadly, lockdowns are becoming part of the routine for students, precautions against the unthinkable.

On Oct. 23, the day before the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, a threat by a Central Kitsap High School student put that school on lockdown. The threat against another student wasn’t made on campus (and it’s not clear whether cyberbullying was part of it), but school officials were taking no chances.

On Oct. 29, a man’s hostile text messages to his estranged wife, a Poulsbo Elementary School employee, led to a lockdown at that school and at Poulsbo Middle School.

On Wednesday, South Kitsap Schools briefly were on modified lockdown, as law enforcement agencies searched for David Michael Kalac, suspect in the murder of a Port Orchard woman. Kalac, believed to have posted pictures of the body online, was later found to have fled the state and was arrested late Wednesday in Oregon.

Speaking of cyberbullying, a student who identifies herself as South Kitsap High School’s “new gossip girl” began last week posting crude and potentially embarrassing posts on Twitter. The girl has gotten some push back from other students. And one parent called her out on the Port Orchard Facebook group, urging students and others to virtually shun her.

On Bainbridge Island, student Otis Doxtater took the fight against bullying (cyber and otherwise) to the next level.

Doxtater, a junior at Eagle Harbor High School, on Oct. 21 organized students from kindergarten through 12th grade to hold a silent procession and demonstration of unity against bullying on the campus of Commodore K-12 Options School, where Eagle Harbor is located.
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The students created a linked chain of paper on which each had written something unique about themselves on one side and what they would do to stand up to bullying on the other. The paper slips were orange for National Unity Day, which was Oct. 22.

Younger in life, Doxtater was painfully familiar with bullying.

“I’ve always had a stutter, so that was always something that would be made fun of,” he said.

And this wasn’t the first time Doxtater had made a public protest against bullying. He has spent hours in the parking lot near McDonald’s on Bainbridge Island with a sign that reads “Love and Equality” on one side and “Stop Bullying” on the other. On Twitter, he uses the hashtag #stopbullying, and he has a YouTube channel, otisdoxtater, demonstrating some of the positive uses for social media.

The response of his schoolmates after the Unity Day demonstration was gratifying.

“As I was walking down the hall, people were walking up to me and said I did an awesome job,” Doxtater said. “It made me feel really good. It made me feel accomplished and proud.”

Doxtater knows he’s putting himself out there, but he’s OK with that.

“I realize I am making myself vulnerable and people are going to criticize me,” Doxtater said. “But I realize it’s something I’m passionate about and I’m willing to get criticized for something that I know is right.”

Maybe Dorn should hire him as a consultant.


NK School Board to pick new board member on election night

The North Kitsap School Board is scheduled to meet Monday evening in executive session to review the applications for the vacant position on the board.

The board is expected to make its selection Tuesday evening, election night.

The District 2 opening happened when Dan Weedin resigned from the board in early October.

City’s classification of B&Bs could impact other home-based businesses

You can visit kitsapsun.com later this evening to see how and why the Port Orchard City Council voted Tuesday to increase stormwater rates.

The lead up to this we’ve covered extensively, and last night’s vote was a long time coming.

Due to space constraints, I was not able to elaborate on an issue that arose out of the utility committee’s discussion in June of how bed and breakfasts should be assessed in the stormwater utility.

Here’s a little background you’ll need:
Stormwater charges are based on impervious surface units, with one ISU defined as 3,000 square feet of impervious surface, such as roofs or pavement. Residential accounts, all deemed to comprise one ISU, are charged a flat monthly rate, as specified in the city’s code.

Commercial businesses and multifamily dwellings are assessed for the area of impervious surface on their property divided by 3,000 square feet multiplied by the monthly rate.

And here’s the long version of the second half of the story that explains how, in one attorney’s opinion, the reclassification of B&Bs as commercial could have far-reaching impacts on all of the city’s homebased businesses.

“Gil and Kathy Michael, owners of Cedar Cove Inn B&B, seconded a suggestion that ratepayers be credited for putting rain gardens, pervious pavement and other stormwater treatment systems on their properties.

The Michaels were required to mitigate stormwater runoff during an earlier expansion of the historic home above Bay Street from which they do business.
And the couple had another problem with the proposal, given that the Cedar Cove Inn has been reclassified as a commercial property.

At the June utility committee meeting, members discussed how B&Bs are assessed in the stormwater utility. The committee considered a suggestion from staff that they should be classified as commercial for accounting purposes.

“The way we handle the code and the way the account is set up is if you have a business license, even if it is a home-based business, you are technically commercial,” said Andrea Archer Parsons, assistant city engineer.

Of the city’s three B&Bs, only Cedar Cove would be significantly impacted, the committee realized. They asked staff to see how other cities classify B&Bs for stormwater assessments, and the report was presented Aug. 19 to the full council but no action was taken.

On June 10, the Michaels got a notice saying their B&B would be assessed as a commercial property “due the fact that they are required to have a business license.” On Oct. 15, they got a notice saying they would be charged for four ISUs.

Their attorney Gary Chrey on Tuesday argued that by extension the “commercial property” rule could apply to all of the city’s home-based businesses, and that could have unintended consequences beyond higher utility rates. He listed higher real estate taxes and more onerous building code requirements among a litany of results.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said he didn’t know where that wording came from and that it needed to be looked at.

Chrey also took issue with wording in the city’s code that defines commercial property as “all property zoned or used for commercial, retail, industrial or community purposes.” The key words here are “or used,” which technically broadens the definition of commercial. Chrey asked that the code be reworded so the classification is based on zoning only.

“I think we still need to do some work, based on what I’ve heard here tonight. We have issues that are related to the increase,” Councilman John Clauson said.

But the council didn’t want to delay the increase entirely and put the city at risk of falling out of compliance with escalating federal water quality standards.

Councilman Rob Putaansuu proposed a one-year graduated increase from the current $7 per month to $9.70 per month on Jan. 1 and $14 per month on June 1 as a way to buy some time to sort out the complicating issues. The increase to $14 is needed, Putaansuu and others say, to fund capital projects that would control flooding and improve water quality.

Putaansuu, John Clauson, Jeff Cartwright and Jerry Childs voted for the ordinance. Fred Chang, Bek Ashby and Cindy Lucarelli voted against it.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

NKSD seeks school board member

The North Kitsap School District seeks someone to replace Dan Weedin on the school board. Weedin resigned last week. Here is the announcement.

The North Kitsap School District Board of Directors is seeking qualified applicants and nominations for qualified applicants for a recent vacancy in the Director District 2 position.  Interested registered voters residing in Director District 2 should submit an application and biographical summary to the following address by 12:00 p.m. Monday, November 3, 2014:  Board of Directors, 18360 Caldart Avenue NE, Poulsbo WA  98370.  Materials may also be emailed to khenry@nkschools.org.

 Application, District 2 boundaries, and timeline may be found on our website at www.nkschools.org, or Click HERE.

For additional questions, please contact Korinne Henry at (360) 396-3001 or khenry@nkschools.org.

We encourage you to share this information with anyone who resides in District 2 and who may be interested in serving on the Board of Directors. 

Tell your story

Click to see a larger version.
Click to see a larger version.

Might I suggest an activity for you on Thursday?

Come tell your story. Or just come and listen to others tell theirs at Story Night in Manette.

The event starts at 7 p.m. and we have to be out of there by about 9 p.m. because Karaoke takes over the Manette Saloon.

If you wish to tell a story, here are the basic rules. Stories must be:

  • True
  • Less than five minutes long
  • Within the night’s theme: “Schooled”

We have an event page and a regular page on Facebook. And I’ve got a website, SpillYourGutsGuts.com, that explains why I’m doing this. Here are a few paragraphs to give you a taste:

“I’ve been telling people for years that it’s probably one of the earliest forms of entertainment in the history of humans. Secondly, if the conspiracy theorists are correct and one day all the power shuts down, then much of our entertainment will be what we can do in person, like sing or dance. Storytelling will also be a big part of the mix.

“Storytelling events also connect us to people we might not otherwise know. We hear their stories and our beliefs about issues, lifestyles and life’s triumphs and mistakes becomes something human. If we’re not careful, storytelling makes us empathetic.

“Finally, it’s fun. You shouldn’t miss it.”

In 1999 or 2000 I attended a storytelling festival in Provo, Utah. That’s probably the first place I had ever become interested in the activity, though I always enjoyed public speaking. I know. I’m weird that way. I get scared, but I love it.

There are not that many opportunities for on-stage storytelling, so over the years I worked on improving my storytelling in my reporting. I also listened to shows that offer excellent examples, such as “This American Life” and “The Tobolowsky Files.” And then I heard The Moth, which is when I became interested in hosting an event. Angela Dice, a former reporter here, and I talked about it for years, but didn’t quite feel confident or disposed with a lot of time to get one going.

Then a few months ago Josh Farley, a fellow reporter who runs the outstanding Kitsap Quiz Night, asked me what I needed to get started. Turns out what I really needed was to have him ask me that question. He introduced me to Rebecca Dove Taylor at the Manette Saloon and we eventually set a date. Since then, it’s gone from slow simmer to full on burn as far as planning. And now the event is upon us.

The official jewelry of Story Night in Manette.
The official jewelry of Story Night in Manette.

A couple weeks ago I finally got to attend a Story Slam in Seattle put on by The Moth. And last week I participated in another Story Slam on Bainbridge Island put on by Field’s End. My message to you? You’ll do fine. Come tell your story. On the Facebook page and on the website are some tips to help you prepare to tell your story if you choose to give one. The winning storyteller on Thursday walks away with the fine jewelry you see pictured here. And I plan on bringing other prizes. I’m still working on those details.

The biggest prize, however, is just whatever you get out of being there. If you speak you get that experience. If you don’t, you get the thrill of hearing others and sharing a night with friends. I’ve been to a few of these and I’ve never been to one that wasn’t fun. And hey, even if you don’t tell a story, you could win a prize! You’ll find out about that on Thursday.

NK’s Page eyes end, but has not set a date

Patty Page, North Kitsap School District superintendent, said on Thursday she will not seek an extension on her contract with the district. That does not mean she is retiring anytime soon.

Page, who started with the district in 2012, signed a three-year contract with the board when she started and has seen one-year extensions each year since. This year she said she doesn’t want one.

Instead, from this point on, as she approaches retirement age she will work with two-year contracts, or go year-to year.

The conversation arose as the board continued conversations about how it will carry out its superintendent evaluation process going forward.