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Student protest discouraged by SKSD administrators

May 13th, 2013 by Chris Henry

Some students at South Kitsap High School had planned a walk-out protest of the district’s plans to eliminate 68 positions, including 61 teachers’ jobs, Principal Jerry Holsten said Monday.

Holsten’s comments confirmed some chatter the Kitsap Sun heard via its Facebook page earlier in the day.

“Yes, we heard about something this morning,” Holsten said. “We addressed it with staff and with some students, and there was no activity.”

Morale at the high school (and throughout the district) is low, given the school board’s decision last week to make plans for its most sweeping layoffs in recent memory. The students had apparently planned a sympathy strike by walking out on classes.

“We respect and admire our students’ opinions and values, and their interest in having a voice,” Holsten said. “We simply encourage them to present their voice in a different fashion that’s less disruptive to their schools.”

Although the state Legislature plans to pump additional funding into the K-12 education system, the budget is far from finalized. Whether or not some or all of the jobs will be saved is a big unknown.

The board is required by law to notify teachers who will be RIF’d, giving them adequate time to seek other jobs before the next school year. The board on May 8 elected to stick with the regular May 15 deadline (that’s Wednesday), instead of going with an extension to June 15, approved by the Legislature at the end of the regular session. One board member said it was a courtesy to teachers possibly facing layoffs, since June 15 would give them little planning time.

A total of 25 staff members have said they will retire or resign at the end of this year, so the number of proposed layoffs is 43.

The RIF list includes 3.3 administrative FTEs: 1.3 at the district office, an assistant principal at the high school and one elementary school assistant principal.
Also slated for elimination are:
25.5 elementary level teaching positions
22.9 secondary teaching positions
3.0 special educational teachers
8.5 career and technical education teachers
An instructional specialist, part of a school nurse position and 4.088 classified or non-teaching support positions make up the rest of cuts.

To add to the stress, documentation is due this week on the state’s new method of evaluating teachers and principals, called TPEP, for Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project.

“This is tough time for everybody, staff, students, administrators, parents,” Holsten said. “It’s a stressful time when we have to talk about staff reductions. It’s a somber mood, however our staff are great professionals, and they’re making sure it doesn’t affect our students’ education.”

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7 Responses to “Student protest discouraged by SKSD administrators”

  1. Justin C Says:

    Good ol’ Kitsap, ensuring you keep pumping out minimum-wage gas attendants, drug addicts, pregnant teens, and jail fodder. Keep up the good work!

  2. Ducttapeo1 Says:

    Always interesting again to read “news” reports based upon fallacies. If it’s not straw man, it’s an emotional appeal.

    How is that the reporting can continually beat the drum accusing the state of underfunding, when LOCAL tax levy expenditures are not given the same attention.

    Seriously, any school official asked will dodge the question, claim that they’re a victim (mostly because of public scrutiny), and answer that it’s ultimately the state’s fault.

    When there are high levels of staff turnover, lower test scores and enrollment, and increasing administration salaries despite the previous items, there’s some really interesting whoppers being claimed.

    I suppose it’s the state’s fault the interim superintendent isn’t required to live in the district, but she’s getting a car allowance for mileage, maintenance , and a $50 @ month smartphone. And she can collect 120 days of retirement pay at the same time. That’s the definition of double dipping.

    If the average area salary is around $40k, with 40% of the district considered “low income”, how can these expenditures on management be justified with the poor test score and the condition of the facilities?

    There is no ongoing analysis of any local school system’s spending of local tax levy money.

    If education was properly funded by the state, would there be less hot dogs, corn dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and fries on the school lunch menus?

  3. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Hey kids, instead of walking out of the classroom today, which is a pathetic knee jerk that accomplishes nothing, continue your education, inform yourselves about even the most boring issues and march your voting age behinds into some of the local public meetings that govern you as a citizen. During the meeting open your mouths and provide important educated testimony on your own behalf.

    (ah….I got my Duct, post reading fix for the day ;-)

  4. sk student Says:

    When you have teachers who have given you more then an average teacher could ever dream, it truly hurts your heart to see them be on the “RIF list”. I don’t think anyone who has not had a student to teacher relationship here at south kitsap can really say that our walk out was a bad idea. It was a little un-organized and hectic, but as the biggest high school on the west side of the state you cant expect it to be perfect. The march wasn’t for change. Because clearly theres not a whole lot we can do now that its been passed, and done. But we can march, sit in, or walk put, to let south kitsap teachers, staff, administrators & families know, that south kitsap high school feels, & hurts for the losses of our favorite teachers, and any teacher for that matter. Thank you

  5. Ducttape01 Says:

    On the issue of school disruption, is this a real, or imagined/created by the school administration?

    Mr. Holsten chooses to engage in the use of several fallacy based responses, rather than to deal with the issues. Why didn’t the administration schedule an in school convocation to address the issue and actually provide a forum? It’s obvious the kids don’t matter to the administration. If you expect the kids to start acting like adults, they need to include and inform them.

    The real issue here is the continual bullying of parents, teachers, and students, that disapprove of the way business is conducted by administration, superintendent, and school board. Bullying is frequently present in low income school districts. 40% of the district is considered “low income”. The present superintendent doesn’t even reside in the district. And when there was a campaign for the recent tax levy, it was promised that things would get better, only to have administration receive raises and the incoming superintendent receiving an additional raise over the previous ones. And now there’s a record number of layoffs. That’s “tough” to take.

    There are two sets of rules. The students could face arrest, detention, or suspension from school if they walked out, yet nothing was done when a group of unsupervised staff were allowed to video tape the boys locker rooms. Furthermore, and county wide, there have been several instances of bullying at other schools with no investigations by the local prosecutor. In the Bremerton schools shooting, the child allegedly brought the gun to school because of bullying. No follow up story, or inquiry by the local prosecutor.

    There’s bullying at the school board levels when there’s requests for openness on spending and policy. In SK and CK it’s been an election issue. CK will move the “retreat” to hinder dissent, and in SK one would file a protective order, and make unsustainable allegations with no consequences. When comments are directed to finances, there’s accusations of vendetta, persecution, and innuendo, directed at those with dissenting opinions, with these officials playing the victim card. That’s really “stressful”.

    So what the Sun blogger chooses to blog about as one instance of school disruption, I see it as a continuing pattern of bullying by school officials, of people with dissenting opinions. This isn’t an isolated incident, and is part of a larger picture on how public education is done in this county.

    So Mr. Holsten says it’s a “tough”, “stressful” time, and it’s a “somber mood”, but the kids are still receiving a “great” education. And why is that, because those school officials, and board members are too busy blaming the state for a lack of funding, than doing their jobs. Does anybody here think they’re doing a “great” job?

  6. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    SKStudent,

    I don’t know if you were one of the students that came and spoke with the Board tonight, but I would like to say “Thank you” to those students who came and asked great questions. They were polite, articulate, and genuinely caring about the impact these cuts will have on quality education in our community and on our staff being RIF’d.

    KUDOS to them!.

  7. countinggthepennies Says:

    sk student:

    I am glad you have spoken out but be careful not to buy in where those not having your best interest in mind are encouraging you. Make up your own mind not based on what the SK Board or Teachers Union are pushing at you but rather what is going to ACTUALLY effect your education and future. Keep in mind that those couching you within the school walls and halls don’t always have your best interest at heart but rather themselves. Welcome to the distasteful world of school politics.

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