Category Archives: South Kitsap

On the education beat: March 15, 2016

Heading for a levy “cliff?”
Look, out there on the horizon, is that the threat of teacher lay-offs?

School District officials say it’s possible if the Legislature doesn’t agree on stalling a “levy cliff” that’s looming for the 2017-18 school year.
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Photo by koratmember at freedigitalphotos.net

Higher local school levy lids (maximum collection amounts allowed) are due to sunset. A bill that didn’t make it through the regular session would have allowed districts to continue collecting at the higher amounts, at least for a year. Without an agreement, local funding will be slashed in the 2017-18 school year.

“This would clearly impact our ability to hire or retain staff for the 2017-18 school year,” Bremerton spokeswoman Patty Glaser said.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the levy cliff bill in the special session, now under way.

Coverage of lead in Ordway water continues
As last week wrapped up, we gave an update of the Ordway water quality issue, as a panel of experts reassured parents that their children’s exposure to lead from water at the school most likely had been low. The district continues to use bottled water at Ordway as a consulting firm re-tests all the faucets and water fountains.

Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with the Bainbridge Island School District facilities director to review water testing records to date. The district is working on a map showing how each faucet and fountain at six schools tested. I also plan to check in with other districts to see if any of them have done voluntary testing for lead in their schools’ water. The kind of testing BISD undertook in December will be required of school in 2017.

North Mason School District to transfer land for park
The district hopes to transfer property it owns on Sweetwater Creek to the Port of Allyn for use as a park.

The port is working with the Salmon Center to build a park and restore the water wheel at the site.
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The school district, which bought the parcel in 1997, had planned to build fish ladders for spawning chum, create trails and a small park. But the district already has its hands full with the Theler property, a wetlands and community center that was deeded to the district but which the district can no longer afford to maintain.

“This looks like a really good project for the community, but it’s not a good project for the school district,” Superintendent Dana Rosenbach said.

The Salmon Center has led efforts to get state grants for the park work.

Award winning bus mechanic at work
And in case you missed it, here’s a video of Maurine Simons, a South Kitsap School District bus mechanic who earned a place in a national competition. Simons was the first woman to compete in the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s annual bus mechanics competition.

Note, March 24, 2016: I have been out of town since March 16, tending to a family matter that came up unexpectedly. I did not have a chance to meet with BISD officials about water test results. Thanks in advance for your patience, as I regroup on coverage of the issue of lead in Ordway Elementary School water.

On the education beat: Jan. 28, 2016

Catching up and looking ahead on the education beat here at the Kitsap Sun.

Next week (Tuesday) we’ll have a story about how to pick the best kindergarten class for your child.

I’m also working on a story about special needs students and the people involved in their education. I’d like to hear from students, parents, paraeducators, special ed teachers and anyone else with thoughts on the intersection of special needs and public education.

Contact me at (360) 792-9219, christina.henry@kitsapsun.com or https://www.facebook.com/chrishenryreporter.

Now for a recap of this week’s education news:

Voting on education funding
First and foremost, did you get your ballot? Voters throughout Kitsap and North Mason counties on Feb. 9 will decide on bond and levy measures. In case you missed it, this story gives a summary of measures by district.

Theler Center, school district asset or albatross?
Following up on Arla Shephard Bull’s comprehensive history of the Mary E. Theler Community Center and Wetlands, North Mason School District, which owns the property, hosted a meeting to bank suggestions about what to do with Theler now that the trust established to support its upkeep is depleted. Ideas ranged from burning down the community center to starting a GoFundMe account.
A Mardi Gras themed murder mystery fundraiser is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Mary E. Theler Community Center, 22871 Highway 3 in Belfair; 360-275-4898.

When caring parenting crosses the line
Do you meddle in your children’s business? Have you ever kept a reminder sheet of upcoming tests? “Helped” them with a project, or, let’s be honest, did the bulk of it yourself? Excused them from chores because they have “so much homework?”
It’s a habit that can escalate, according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean at Stanford and author of “How to Raise an Adult,” who will speak on Bainbridge Feb. 3. One college student she knew had never learned to pump gas because her parents visited every weekend and filled the tank for her.
Although the author observed the problem of hovering parents (she tries not to use the helicopter parent tag) as one of upper middle-class and affluent families, it is by no means limited to the 1 percent.
Lythcott-Haims’ talk is not limited to Bainbridge families. Here are the details: 7:30-9 p.m. Feb.3 at Bainbridge High School, 9330 NE High School Road; Cost: $15. Register at: raisingresilience.org.

Education tidbits
A Bremerton elementary school teacher earned her masters degree through classes at Woodland Park Zoo.
And South Kitsap School district will host a meeting 5:30 p.m. Thursday (that’s tonight) at South Kitsap High School to explain the International Baccalaureate program it hopes to bring to schools, including the high school. We wrote about the program last spring.

North Kitsap Fire receives new heart monitors

North Kitsap Fire and Rescue loads one of the new heart monitors into a medic unit Tuesday.
North Kitsap Fire and Rescue loads one of the new heart monitors into a medic unit Tuesday.

KINGSTON — Harrison Medical Center Foundation publicly launched part of a $1 million project to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in Kitsap County as it delivered to updated heart monitors to North Kitsap Fire and Rescue on Tuesday.

The two monitors, worth about $40,000 each, allow emergency responders to better view heart rates while CPR is in progress, said Steve Engel, with North Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

NKFR_heart-monitorThe monitors also send heart readings directly to Harrison Medical Center to see if patients require surgery for blocked heart arteries.

The hospital began receiving heart readings from emergency responders at a scene in 2014, although not all area fire authorities have monitors capable of sending readings.

South Kitsap and North Mason do not have the technology, according to Kari Driskell with the hospital foundation.

The foundation’s goal is to supply five monitors to South Kitsap and North Mason. A grant for one monitor in South Kitsap has been secured, Driskell said.

The Suquamish Tribe donated the funds needed for North Kitsap’s two monitors, although fundraising continues for a third one in North Kitsap.

Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island already have updated heart monitors.

The foundation’s $1 million project is to supply each of the county’s fire agencies with updated heart monitors and CPR machines, as well as launch a CPR smartphone app.

The app, called PulsePoint, aims to alert those who know CPR when they are in the proximity of someone experiencing cardiac arrest in a public location.

PulsePoint also would notify users where the closest automatic external defibrillator, or AED, is.

The CPR machines provide nearly-perfect CPR at the proper speed and depth — 100 compressions a minute at a depth of 2 inches — and can perform accurate chest compression while a patient is in an ambulance.

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Officials from North Kitsap Fire, the Suquamish Tribe and the Harrison Medical Center Foundation at the North Kitsap Fire headquarters Tuesday.

Live online chat planned on SKSD grade realignment

South Kitsap School District Superintendent Michelle Reid on Wednesday, July 15, will share her final recommendation with the school board on a plan to move ninth graders up to South Kitsap High School.

The Kitsap Sun will cover that meeting and on the following day, at 7 p.m. July 16, I’ll host a live online chat with Superintendent Reid. We hope you’ll log on to www.kitsapsun.com to listen in. There will opportunity to comment, ask questions and take polls.

The grade realignment plan has been under discussion within the district throughout the 2014-2015 school year. Other elements of the proposed re-shuffle include moving sixth graders, now in elementary schools, up to the junior high schools and converting the junior highs to middle schools.

The district’s school boundary committee, convened at the start of the school year, recommends making the changes all at once, no sooner than 2016-2017 but no later than 2017-2018.

The committee supported a small boundary change to go into effect in the upcoming school year, whereby about 65 students from the Wye Lake area will be reassigned from Sunnyslope to Burley-Glenwood School to address immediate crowding needs. Moving sixth graders to the junior high/middle schools will address longer term crowding, the committee concluded.

Reid agrees with all that, but in a preliminary presentation to the board June 2, she recommended phasing in the grade realignment. The changes should be implemented at one junior high each year, starting with Cedar Heights in 2016-17, Reid said. Elementary “feeder” schools for Cedar Heights are Sidney Glen and Sunnyslope, both of which are experiencing crowding.

Under Reid’s plan, the phase-in would continue with another third of the district’s ninth- and sixth-graders moving up in 2017-18 and the rest in 2017-18. The order of the second two move-ups is up for discussion, she said.

Reid said spreading the grade realignment over three years would make it fiscally and logistically easier on the district. The realignment would help the district address crowding at some schools and give students more developmentally appropriate learning environments, she said.

Some parents and community members have raised concerns about crowding at the high school. Reid said she has received considerable feedback on the proposal, which she will address in her final plan on Wednesday.

So, stay tuned. And while you’re waiting for the meeting coverage and online chat, feel free to send me your thoughts about ninth graders moving up to the high school, along with other aspects of the plan. Let me know if you are a student, parent or community member, and if you are willing to have your comments published.

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

SKHS grad flips out as L.A. stuntwoman

Coming up later tonight at www.kitsapsun.com, we profile a 2011 South Kitsap High School grad who is now a stunt woman in Los Angeles.

Sydney Olson, who started in gymnastics at Mile High Gym in Port Orchard and spent most of her time at Olympic Gymnastics Center in Silverdale, will appear Monday on “American Ninja Warrior.” I had never heard of it, but I learned that contestants have to navigate a strenuous obstacle course.

Olson’s skills in freerunning and parkour — both explained in the article which runs Sunday in the Kitsap Sun — helped her earn a spot on the show out of 10,000 people who auditioned.

You can read Olson’s story in print tomorrow or online tonight/Saturday when it posts at www.kitsapsun.com (I would expect by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m PST). You can see how she did in the competition by tuning in to “American Ninja Warrior” at 8 p.m. PST Monday on NBC.

You can see Olson in action in these YouTube Videos.

Wins, Fails and Grunts … in which Olson shows how much work it takes to master the moves.

BODYPOP, Official Music Video, in which she appears with social media entrepreneur Cassey Ho. That’s her on the right in the first frame.

Red Bull Art of Motion Submission 2014, in which she shows her stuff, like running up trees and flipping over backwards.

This post has been edited. The original version misstated Sydney Olson’s last name on first reference.

Golf in South Kitsap goes to the dogs

Kerris, the yellow lab who works at the Kitsap County Courthouse, started the weekend early with a round of golf Friday morning at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting.
Kerris
Perhaps you remember the story I did on Kerris in 2010. The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s office brought her on as a courtroom therapy dog to put witnesses at ease during difficult testimony, and generally to diffuse the tension. Her handler is Keven Kelly, chief of District Municipal Court.

The two were golfing for charity at the Kitsap Humane Society‘s Fore the Animal’s golf tournament. This is the third year of the tournament, which is notable for allowing animals to tag along.

I love imagining dogs in plaid knickers and spiked shoes, wagging their little tails as they get ready to tee off. Alas, it doesn’t work like that. The dogs pretty much just ride in golf carts, slobber and shed.

There were 100 golfers and seven pooches signed up for the tourney, said Rebecca Johnson, the Humane Society’s event coordinator and executive assistant.

Their goal was to raise $15,000 for KHS.

Here’s a map of the revised Phillips Road ULID

As we reported this week, West Sound Utility District has shrunk the boundaries of a proposed Utility Local Improvement District that, if approved by WSUD commissioners, would extend water and sewer along Phillips Road.

People who want to develop their land, including the owner of the Ridgeline development a the far end of the ULID, initiated the process. Originally more parcels were included, but a number of property owners objected to the assessment, saying they either didn’t plan to develop their land further, and/or they already have functioning wells and septics.

In response, WSUD took many properties off the map, but not all of those belonging to people who object. For example, the Clover Valley Riding Center is right on Phillips Road; it’s still in the ULID. The assessment on the property was reduced, however, since owner Jill Seely contested the calculations used to define how much of the property could be developed.

Here is a document showing the ULID boundaries for both sewer and water. The document shows acreage and how much can be developed, as well as assessments (total over 20 years) for each property.

The ball is now in the court of the ULID proponents, who must get a petition showing support from owners of at lest 51 percent of the acreage. WSUD commissioners will be looking for a much higher level representing “overwhelming” support, WSUD manager Michael Wilson has said.

I’ll be following up at the March 16 WSUD meeting the see if there is a petition forthcoming.

Any questions, concerns or thoughts, email me at chenry@kitsapsun.com.

Investigation of alleged bullying unrelated to Canton’s resignation, superintendent says

Note Jan. 9, 2014: Michelle Caldier contacted me after this post was published and told me that she did not authorize for her Facebook profile to be added to the group Parents Against South Kitsap Football.

A complaint of bullying by the parent of one student on this year’s South Kitsap High School football team was not connected to head coach Eric Canton’s recent resignation, Superintendent Michelle Reid said Thursday.

Reid early in December authorized a third party investigation into the complaints of Jennifer Wilkinson on behalf of her son, a senior on the Wolves’ varsity squad. Wilkinson alleges that Canton and other staff intimidated her son in retaliation for criticism he and later she lodged with the coach and high school athletic director over concerns they had about safety issues and whether player time was handled fairly.

Wilkinson also alleges that her son’s privacy rights were violated in online discussions of his academic eligibility to play for the Wolves.

Canton resigned on Dec. 26 after meeting earlier in the month with the high school principal and later athletic director Ed Santos. Those encounters were followed by a Dec. 23 meeting with the district’s director of human resources, an assistant superintendent and a couple of union reps.

As Canton told Kitsap Sun sports columnist Chuck Stark, he felt he had no choice but to resign.

“I wasn’t going to fight it,” Canton said.

Reid said Wilkinson’s complaint trickled up to her some weeks after Wilkinson filed a harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) complaint on Oct. 14. Most such complaints are handled within the school and never actually result in a formal HIB report, Reid said.

Two formal HIB reports were filed within the district in the last two years, both at the high school. One was Wilkinson’s complaint about Canton; the other, filed last school year, was unrelated to Canton. Last year’s report did not result in a third party investigation.

South Kitsap High School officials conducted an investigation of Wilkinson’s complaint, but she wasn’t satisfied, and she appealed to the next level, the superintendent.

At that point, Reid said, she decided to engage a third party investigator.
“It’s an objective look at the facts so we can tone down the emotional intensity and tone down the rhetoric a little so we can just looks at the facts,” she said.

Were there complaints from other parents or the community about Canton?

“Complaints have not come to me personally about Coach Canton,” Reid said.

The investigation, which is still under way, is being conducted by Rick Kaiser, an attorney specializing in workplace investigations, with experience in handling issues related to risk management in schools.

Reid said she believes having an outside party review the facts and allegations is in the best interests of all concerned.

“Obviously we take those reports seriously,” Reid said. “We need to have a full and thoughtful look at all the events that took place. I have confidence that our staff at all times has the best intent for our young people.”

Reid said the investigator was in the district this week, although he has not yet interviewed her.

Unlike teachers, coaches serve on a year-to-year contract under authorization of the athletic director. Any “separation” must occur within 30 days of the end of season, Reid said. That explains the timing of Canton’s departure as coach.

He will, however, continue as a dean at the high school.

I asked Reid what protections the district affords to coaches, given the emotionally charged arena of high school sports.

“I will do everything I can to protect coaches. I think coaching is a difficult job in today’s world, and it’s an important job as well,” Reid said. “Part of the reason I have a third party investigator investigating the situation is to protect our coaches. My assumption going in is that our coaches have done the right thing.

“I think the best protection for our coaches is the truth. I believe the investigation is going to surface facts that will support the truth.”

Reid did not know when the investigation would be complete.

As for Canton himself, she added, “I think he’s a fine young man. I really appreciate Canton’s dedication and passion for South Kitsap School District and the athletic program here at South Kitsap High School. I admire his dedication and passion.”

Reid said she couldn’t comment on whether the Wolves’ less than stellar record during Canton’s tenure bore on his resignation, because “I’m not at liberty to discuss a personnel matter at this point.”

South was 6-4 Canton’s first season with the Wolves advancing to a Class 4A state preliminary round. South was 4-6 and 3-7 the past two seasons.

“I take full responsibility for not winning enough games,” Canton told Stark.
He added however, that “helping athletes become productive members of society” is a higher priority for him than winning games in high school.

Jennifer Wilkinson (Downey) is related to incoming 26th District State Rep. Michelle Downey Caldier, who is listed as a member of Wilkinson’s Facebook group Parents Against South Kitsap Football Program. The group had eight members on Thursday.

SKSD video message to Arne Duncan makes a top 10 list

Last year, when Washington State lost its waiver under No Child Left Behind, South Kitsap School District teachers and administrators got together to give U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a message. Lip synchingIt came in the form of a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” — as in all they want is a little — sung by music teacher Leslie Niemi, karaoke style, with lively backup from various school officials. Thus, they belted out their frustration with their schools being labeled as “failing” under NCLB standards.

Teachers and school officials wiggled their hips and clapped to the beat. In the video, Superintendent Michelle Reid, usually staid and suited, cuts loose in a pink feather boa in the video by the high school’s production crew. Small wonder visitors to the website Our Kids Our Future made it third among the site’s top viewed posts from 2014, according to the Washington State School Directors Association, which does a roundup of education news from around the state and nation every week.

Others posts on Our Kids Our Future included: “Emerald Ridge grad strikes it big as professional umpire,” “Being included means everything,” and “Put your ‘teacher’ hat on.”

Without question, the website draws an audience sympathetic to the district’s message. Our Kids Our Future‘s “campaign is led by a group of Washington education organizations, including WSSDA. The goal is to highlight excellence in Washington State public schools,” according to its “about us” page. Partners include the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as state associations of school principals, school administrators, the state teachers union, PTAs, school boards and others.

Vested interests aside, pretty much everyone, including members of Congress, agree that NCLB was a good idea but flawed in how it was a carried out. Standards for all students, no exceptions, were ramped up over time until meeting them became all but impossible. In recognition, the federal government allowed a waiver for states whose districts were making “adequate yearly progress” toward the ideal. Washington lost its waiver this year when the Legislature — pressured by teachers and others — declined to support a teacher evaluation program relying on statewide test scores. That meant districts had to inform parents that their schools, some of which had recently earned recognition from the state, were “failing.” Schools that receive federal Title I money and which have been placed in one of five levels of “improvement” have to set aside some of their Title I allocation for parents who want their children transported to a different school or district, or who wanted tutoring outside the failing school.

In a story we wrote in August, as districts tried to figure out the implications, I cited a letter Reid wrote to families in which she called the “fail” label “regressive and punitive.” Clearly, SKSD’s performance was designed not only to stick it to Arne Duncan — with a great sense of rhythm, no less — but as a moral boost for the staff. And for my money, no matter where you stand on NCLB, it’s always a moral booster to see a school superintendent in a feather boa.
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Wonder what they’ll do for an encore.

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.