8 thoughts on “Education town hall planned for Tuesday

  1. What is the subject? A forum on education has a very broad discussion base. Checking the SKSD website you get a short presentation by one legislator, Larry Seaquist. He is explaining how our elected officials in Olympia are progressing fully funding K-12 education. South Kitsap covers a large area and has multiple legislature districts. Is anyone from the 35th district showing up? Sheldon, Haigh, or MacEwan?

    Anyone can give a short presentation on the dysfunction that is Olympia and not limit it to funding education. I think a real town hall meeting would include all elected official who represent the South Kitsap area and include the SKSD boards intentions for the next year or so. What new bonds or levies are planned? SKSD passed the largest operations and maintenance levy ever in South Kitsap this year & the budgeting process by the board shifted funds to cover loss of funds from Olympia and led to an almost strike by teachers and cut significant funds from capital projects. Maybe Mr. Seaquist can explain why Olympia increased the percentage levies can make up school budgets to over 26%, yet Olympia continues to pass unfunded rules and regulations.

    Many questions for one lone elected official to answer.

  2. Chris,

    I think the Education Forum is being hosted by Rep. Larry Seaquist.

    From the SKSD Website:

    “Washington State Representative Larry Seaquist is hosting an Education Town Hall at 5:00 p.m. on December 17, 2013 at the Dragonfly Cinema in Port Orchard. Representative Seaquist will give a short presentation on the progress of the state toward fully funding education. The remainder of the time will be dedicated to audience comments and questions. This is an excellent opportunity for educators, parents and community members to let their voices be heard.”

  3. Roger,

    Just to clarify, the Board didn’t suddenly shift funds this year to cover the underfunding by the State. SKSD, like school districts across the state, have been ‘shifting’ or using more and more levy funding to make up for the state’s failure to fund their own requirements for 15+ years now.

    That is why school districts joined the NEWS lawsuit which eventually resulted in the “McCleary” decision.

  4. Kathryn,
    I agree that it was not funds suddenly shifted this year. It was a decision by the board to shift funding over the last 4 years at least to cover what Olympia cutback. That shift of funds has lead to a poor capital plan a very reduced reserves and will lead to a major fund drive for SKSD in the future for a new levy or bond.

    My only problem with the town hall (I could not attend due to other commitments) is it was stated “The South Kitsap School District Board of Directors and legislators representing South Kitsap” and the SKSD site stated “Representative Seaquist will give a short presentation on the progress of the state toward fully funding education.’ When I read “legislators representing South Kitsap” I think of the 35th District of which I am a part of. One of out six legislators is not what I would call informative or involved. Maybe Mr Seaquist would like to get all the 35th and 26th District legislators together for a town hall meeting of those who do represent all of South Kitsap. It would be a very interesting meeting.

  5. Roger and Kathryn – Although the press release specified that Seaquist would be making a presentation, I erroneously assumed that since it was an open forum, other legislators might be there.

    Roger, I take your point that a discussion among all of our legislators would be on some levels more meaningful than a report from one. To give Seaquist credit, he has been in the audience at three or four of the school board meetings I have attended (as my memory serves me), starting in the midst of the teachers’ strike. And for the record, then-Rep. Jan Angel attended one of those meetings (at Hidden Creek Elementary).

    I, too, was unable to attend the forum (due to the tragic fatal collision on Baby Doll). I would be interested in any take-aways from those who did attend.

    Chris Henry, reporter

  6. Roger,

    It may surprise you that I don’t disagree with you on either point in your response to me. Yup, making up for the state’s failure to fully fund basic ed has put SKSD behind in capital projects. That is what happens when the state forces us to choose between funding the backfilling their abdicated responsibility or facilities projects. As I stated at the forum, the difficulty we (and other districts across the state) are between ‘good and gooder’…

    Do we pay for professional development for teachers (an essential element of quality instruction) or do we pay for repairs to facilities? Do we pay for the non-classroom time our teachers need to grade papers, prepare lessons, help students, etc, or do we purchase updated curriculum. When you have $100 and $150 worth of work to do, you have to make choices.

    I also agree that a Town Hall on public education should have involved ALL of our legislators. But, the event was Rep. Seaquist’s and he set the agenda and he didn’t invite the other elected legislators to participate (to my knowledge).

  7. Chris,

    I attended and my take is that it was a good opportunity for Rep. Seaquist to listen to the concerns of those most involved in public education, locally. To his credit, he did listen. He also made some political statements that I don’t necessarily agree with.

    One of his points that I disagree with is his assertion that the K-12 community, locally and across the state, need to better market the good work being done in public schools so that voters will want to vote for more state taxes for education. While I believe schools/school districts should share the good news of the work being accomplished and be accountable for public funds, I do not believe it is the responsibility of schools to market for more tax revenue for the state.

    K-12 education is the state’s constitutional PARAMOUNT duty. There is ample funding in state revenue for K-12. Public education uses about 42% of the state’s fiscal resources. It used to be closer to 50% two decades ago but the legislature has slowly eroded state funding for K-12, while adding increasingly stringent and expensive requirements.

    Legislators have the discretion, fiscal resources, and authority to fund K-12 education. Perhaps, Rep. Seaquist should encourage his peers in the legislature to take the State Constitution seriously and fund their legislated state K-12 education requirements. Then, ask those services/programs of the state that are not constitutionally described as “PARAMOUNT” to “market” themselves better to the voters for more tax revenue. Better yet, Legislators have the power to close tax loop holes, increase taxes as needed for discretionary spending, and market/explain those needs to the voters as part of their own accountability.

    Oh, wait… smiling kids with pencils in hand and school busses as backdrops make better posters and incentives for raising taxes than those less visually attractive needs like ecology, transportation, law enforcement, corrections, commerce, and agriculture.

    The State of Washington does NOT need more tax revenue for K-12 education. It has ample revenue for K-12 requirements. What has been lacking is Legislators willing to honor the State Constitution. That is a fact clearly articulated by the State Supreme Court in the McCleary Decision.

  8. Also, many made the very good point that if we want a quality K-12 education system in Washington State then we must be willing to fully fund the most essential component of a highly successful learning environment… teachers!

    Voters saw the need for quality teacher compensation in November 2000, by a 63% vote, when they approved an initiative for mandatory cost of living adjustments for K-12 personnel. Yet the legislator have cut or flattened teacher pay for the last 5 years. The voters spoke. Our legislators overrode them.

    At the same election in November, 2000, voters approved an initiative for smaller class sizes too, by a 72% voter approval. Yet the legislature overrode that decision too.

    Voters, in districts across the state, are approving levies because they want quality education in their communities. And the legislature, recognizing that, has chosen to increase the levy lids so that local districts go out for their funding needs that our legislators are failing to provide.

    I don’t think the voters have abandoned K-12 education. I think our Legislators have chosen to override the will of the voters and have lacked a backbone to do what is right and paramount… fund K-12 education!

    Educators and education professionals deserve to be paid to the level commensurate with their education and our children deserve class sizes compatible with quality educational opportunity. The voters spoke their will on those subjects. The Legislators disregarded the voters.

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