NKSD superintendent evaluation, what’s next?

There’s been plenty of news lately about Kitsap County school superintendents.

Last week South Kitsap School District Superintendent Michelle Reid announced she will be moving to the much larger Northshore School District in Bothell. And Faith Chapel, superintendent in Bainbridge Island School District for the past eight years, was lauded last Friday on her retirement.

In North Kitsap School District, Superintendent Patty Page has faced mounting criticism from the teachers’ union and community. A vote of no confidence by the union on May 26 was supported by members of the custodial and food service employees’ union. And on June 9, the school board received a petition from community members with 419 signatures asking the board for a leadership change, as union leaders also have suggested.

The petition reiterated the union’s complaints about a climate of intimidation under Page’s “top-down leadership” style.

Given all that, there is heightened interest this year in the superintendent’s annual evaluation process.

The board met last week in executive session (a meeting closed to the public) that was on a Wednesday (not the board’s usual Thursday meeting). Board president Beth Worthington confirmed that the special session held June 15 was related to Page’s annual evaluation and that the board had met in executive session June 9 for the same reason.

Districts all have slightly different methods for evaluating the superintendent. As in North Kitsap, discussion of a superintendent’s performance and goals for the upcoming year typically takes place in executive session.

In Bremerton, for example, both the mid-year and year-end superintendent evaluation are done in executive session, BSD spokeswoman Patty Glaser said. The superintendent’s progress toward his own goals are reviewed in executive session. The district’s goals, which may overlap with with the superintendent’s goals to some extent are presented and voted on in open session, before the public, Glaser said.

Worthington explained, “It has not been the practice of NKSD to discuss the content of the superintendent evaluation in public. The board works hard to have a relationship of trust, honesty and support with the superintendent and will work hard to have the same with future superintendents. Not discussing the evaluation of the superintendent performance in public allows for meaningful and productive communication for improvement for the benefit of NKSD.”

The superintendent’s final evaluation is, however, a public record. The state’s open public records act generally exempts evaluation of a public employee from disclosure. But not in the case of the director or lead employee of a public agency.

Korinne Henry (no relation to me), North Kitsap School District’s public records officer, explains, “This is an exception to the normal rule that public employee evaluation information affects employee personal privacy rights and is exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56. 230(3). The rationale for this exception is found in an appellate court decision involving a city manager. Like a city manager, a school superintendent manages the district and is evaluated directly by an elected school board, the same as the elected officials of a city evaluate a city manager, thus the public has a legitimate interest in knowing the results of the evaluation.”

In North Kitsap, the superintendent’s evaluation is a summary incorporating all board members’ input and consensus of the board on the superintendent’s performance in meeting goals and on a number of evaluation criteria, such as leadership, community engagement and collaboration, and improvement of student education and services. The superintendent’s contract, including salary, also is a public document.

Any action taken by a school board in executive session, such as voting to renew (or not renew) the superintendent’s contract, must be made in open session before the public.

Under NKSD policy and procedure, the superintendent’s evaluation is to be completed by July 1, but the board can extend or modify the contract before July 1. That will be the case this year, Worthington said. “Due to the complexity of current issues and scheduling constraints of individual board members, I believe we need more time.”

At Thursday’s board meeting (June 23), the board will consider a resolution to extend the July 1 date to the July 14 regular meeting, Worthington said.

The board at the July 14 meeting also will discuss Page’s goals for the 2016-2017 school year. “That has been our practice for the last several years,” Worthington said.

Page has said she is retiring at the end of the upcoming school year after a lengthy career in education

As leader of the district, Page’s annual goals are inevitably intertwined with North Kitsap’s Strategic Plan goals. There are three main goals in the plan, one of which is “stakeholder satisfaction and support.”

“The superintendent’s goals may relate to her individual performance in assisting the district to attain the Strategic Plan and goals,” Worthington said.

Worthington and Page in a May 25 letter to the public (the day before the no confidence vote) acknowledged they had not publicly addressed climate surveys by the teachers’ union in 2013 and 2015 that reflected negatively on Page’s leadership. In the letter, Worthington and Page pledged a commitment to improving relations with staff and the community. Public and staff comments at the June 9 board meeting indicate a growing impatience to see signs this effort is under way.

Chris Fraser, teachers’ union president, said frustration among her members is growing due to lack of movement. “The school board should strongly consider buying out the contract for our current superintendent and selecting an interim superintendent with input from stakeholder groups,” Fraser wrote in a June 9 press release.

The board meanwhile has made discussion of communication and public trust a regular item on its agenda.

Fraser has called for the board to meet with employees and has criticized Worthington for discouraging such meetings. Worthington said it’s not the board’s role to “address complaints directly with citizens, employees and employee organizations.” That’s up to administrators and supervisory staff, she said.

Worthington said that board members are indeed willing to meet with staff and receive their written complaints, comments and concerns. What the board shouldn’t do, she said, is meet in any context that would smack of taking administrative action or constitute negotiation of contract terms. Doing so could compromise the relationship between the district administration and the union, Worthington said.

However, Worthington said she supports suggestions from board members Jim Almond and Glen Robbins, who said they’d like to go out to schools on a listening tour.

“While we can’t really be the workhorse in resolving complaints, we find it valuable to know what people’s experiences are,” Worthington said.

It’s a subtle difference. How did it get lost in translation?

“We probably are not as competent and well versed in public relations as we should be,” she said.

SKHS grads revisit childhood at South Colby

A new tradition among high school graduates that gives a nod to nostalgia is spreading here in Kitsap County.

Last week, members of Bremerton’s senior class visited their elementary schools on graduation day, wearing their caps and gowns. The idea came from a Texas high school, whose images went viral after its seniors journeyed the halls of the local elementary schools.

On Monday, seniors from South Kitsap High School stopped in on South Colby Elementary for a trip down memory lane … and to inspire younger students.

The South Kitsap grads were greeted and cheered by students and teachers who formed a “tunnel of hope.”

Here are a few photos provided by South Kitsap School District.

This is Anna Somerville walking down the breezeway through the tunnel of high fives and cheers. Anna was the senior field marshal for the SKHS marching band this year, and she is going to The Honors College at WSU.

Below is a group of grads (left to right): Richard James (who will be going on a mission to Utah in July), Kevin Morrison (low brass section leader in the SKHS band. He’s participated in wrestling and track, and is going to George Fox to study engineering), Analise Burko (president of the National Honor Society. She’s participated in basketball and tennis, and is going to the university of Washington to study biomedical engineering), and Chloe Meyers (low brass section leader in the SKHS band, who was on swim team and in the school play. Chloe is going to The Honors College at WSU to study chemistry and pre-med).

South Colby students gave the graduates messages of encouragement.
From left to right: Karissa Gay, Hanna Spencer, Phoebe Chobot, Gracie Thompson, Alisa Young, Jayden Lynch, Emma Keddy.

Renegade rooster finds a flock

Bitsey the rooster, who avoided capture for a year in South Kitsap.
Bitsey the rooster, who avoided capture for a year in South Kitsap.

Bitsey, the once elusive rooster, quickly found himself in a permanent home after being captured earlier this month in South Kitsap and taken to the humane society in Silverdale.

Last summer, Bitsey made the ravine above Port Orchard City Hall his own. City officials and neighbors weren’t pleased with situation where the rooster would crow at all hours of the day and night.

Animal control finally nabbed the rooster on May 4. He was adopted by Lone Rock Mercantile in Seabeck on May 13, a day after he was up for adoption. The owners of the store declined to be interviewed, although Bitsey now is happily spending his days with 15 hens, according to the Kitsap Humane Society.

Livestock tend to be adopted fairly quickly because of the rural area in and around Kitsap, said Meagan Richards, the humane society’s adoption program coordinator.

Roosters usually take the longest to adopt, she added.

Livestock are adopted in an average of 12-20 days, including roosters. Without counting roosters, livestock are adopted in less than five days, Richards said.

Dogs tend be adopted in less than seven days, while cats average about a 15 day stay at the humane society.

Duck the rooster, who is up for adoption at the Kitsap Humane Society.

There is still one rooster, named Duck, up for adoption.

When Bitsey arrived at the humane society there were at least two other roosters up for adoption.

“Over here, he’s crowing up a storm with the three of ‘em going at the same time,” said Chase Connolly, an animal control officer with KHS. “It’s an orchestra of roosters.”

Now, only Duck is left.

For information on adopting Duck, contact KHS at 360-692-6977.

New Bio-medical class at West Sound Tech

For today’s story on a fast-track certification program for teachers in career and technical education, I visit John Thornton’s Bio-medical Research & Global Health class at West Sound Technical Skills Center.

Thornton, a retired Navy corpsman, recently graduated from a program at Olympic College that counts work experience toward teacher certification. The program could help address a shortage of career and technical education teachers in Washington State, OC officials say.

There’s a growing interest in CTE, which allows students to explore possible career fields, earn certification for entry level jobs and pursue a plan of study that leads to post-secondary education with a tight focus on a specific career or skill.

Although most of Thornton’s students plan to go to college and beyond, they could qualify right now for entry level laboratory jobs.

As I toured the lab, I had to keep reminding myself these were high school students.

I interviewed lab supervisor Hannah Whitbeck, 17, of Chimacum, on her study of a new gel being used to promote clotting in battlefield wounds. Whitbeck, a senior in white lab coat, showed me around the lab, which has equipment such as a spectrophotometer, for analyzing samples by the light absorbed in each, and an incubator, in which students were cultivating bacterial samples from swabs of epithelial cells in their mouths. Nothing nasty found, by the way.

Brandon Hoover a South Kitsap High School junior had designed a water purification system using materials, like cardboard, rocks and plastic funnels, that could be readily found in most settings, including third world countries. He called it the Zimbabwe Project. The frame is made of sturdy recycled cardboard. Water is poured through a series of funnels. The rocks remove larger debris. The water is then boiled and the steam is captured as condensed water in five-gallon jugs.

Kelsey Lantrip also of South Kitsap High School, researched the potential toxicity of crumb rubber used in artificial turf. Lantrip showed me Petri dishes containing samples from turf fields at Bainbridge Island’s Strawberry Hill Park and South Kitsap High School’s new turf field, which uses natural materials like ground coconut husks instead of crumb rubber, as on most turf fields.

Lantrip said she tested to see whether the samples were mutagenic, likely to increase the frequency of mutation in an organism. South Kitsap’s samples were not mutagenic; the Bainbridge samples were. Granted the samples are small, and this is not proof that either substance is carcinogenic or safe. But it’s a start. “I think this is a small portion of what could be done,” said Lantrip, who advocates systematic study of turf fields, as has been proposed nationally.

Carry on, kids, and thanks for the tour.

The students took a trip to Seattle’s Gum Wall, before it was demolished and took lab samples. They were even interviewed by a Seattle TV station. Remarkably, all they found was normal flora.

Movie screening in NK highlights adverse childhood experiences

The impact of negative childhood experiences like experiencing abuse or being placed in foster care is getting a lot of attention these days. So called “adverse childhood experiences” impact a child’s ability to learn, educators are discovering, and there’s a trend toward trying to understand students’ struggles in the context of their ACEs profile.

No one is immune from ACEs. A parents’ divorce, a serious illness, it all adds up. But for some children who’ve had it particularly tough, the cumulative effect is disabling.

North Kitsap School District will host a free screening of “Paper Tigers,” a documentary about the effect of stress on the childhood brain at 6 p.m. Monday at North Kitsap Community Auditorium, 1881 NE Hostmark St.

The film “captures the pain, danger, beauty and hopes of struggling teens—and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing lives for the better,” according to a press release on the district’s website.

After the film, there will be a 30-minute Q&A with Joe Sporleder, retired principal of Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, who pioneered alternative approaches to helping stressed students, including re-thinking how to manage behavior problems. I interviewed Sporleder for our series on discipline, which ran in 2014.

“We are excited to screen this film for our parents, community and staff”, said Associate Director of Learning Support Programs Sonia Barry. “Our area has many children that have Adverse Childhood Experiences which impact their school career and transition to adulthood. We are eager to learn more about trauma-informed care and brain development in order to assist our children to become successful adults. This includes strategies for preventing and de-escalating problem behavior and learning more about ACEs.”

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.
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.
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.

Howe family honored by Congress

Howe family history was honored Thursday in Congress.

As anyone familiar with South Kitsap knows, the Howe name is interwoven throughout Port Orchard’s 125-year history. It began with William Fenton Howe, who on March 6, 1891, moved his family from Tacoma to the shores of Sinclair Inlet in the town known as Sidney (now Port Orchard). The Howes were movers and shakers in the town’s early government and commerce. Members of the family, including the late Gerry Howe Bruckart, remained influential throughout the 20th Century.

Anyone not familiar with the Howes’ contributions to Port Orchard ought to be, according to Edwin (Scott) Howe of Pierce County, great-grandson of William Fenton Howe. Edwin pitched to Congressman Derek Kilmer a proclamation noting March 6 as the 125th anniversary of the Howes’ arrival in Port Orchard. Kilmer was instrumental in authorizing the proclamation, which he read into the Congressional record on Thursday, according to Kilmer’s spokesman Jason Phelps.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the William Fenton Howe family for their contributions to the history of the Pacific Northwest and to recognize their 125th anniversary of calling the city of Port Orchard, Wash., home,” Kilmer read.

The proclamation goes on to detail the lives of the Howes, who came to Washington in 1888 from Pennsylvania. They lived in Tacoma before arriving in Sidney in 1891. William and his wife Emma had five children: Harry, William, Edwin, Roy and Edith.

Sidney, incorporated in 1890, was the first town in Kitsap County to do so. The Howes established Howe Hardware, serving a the burgeoning lumber industry. Agriculture and a pottery works were other major economic drivers in Port Orchard’s early days.
Following the death of his wife in 1985 and a fire at the hardware store, William Fenton Howe placed the children with families in the community and set off for Alaska to pursue opportunities in the booming mining industry there. Edwin Scott Howe joined his dad, and they provided stoves to the miners.

Back in Port Orchard, after the death of their father, Edwin and Harry Howe opened Howe Brothers Hardware. The family also owned Howe Motor Company, which supplied many of the first vehicles to the Kitsap Peninsula. Members of the Howe family served on the city council and were engaged in civic organizations. They rallied to bring electric power to the town and ensure the location of a veterans home in Retsil.

The Howe legacy continued with Gerry Howe Bruckart, a businesswoman and charter member of the Sidney Museum and Arts Association. Bruckart, who owned the Olde Central Antique Mall on bay Street, died in 2005 at 88.

Edwin Scott Howe tells us he is “the last of the Howe clan and never had any children. I am one of the original ‘Baby Boomers’ having been born March 13, 1946. I moved from Port Orchard in 1981 to Pierce County. My oldest sister, Judy Howe, is the sole surviving member of the original Howe family still living in Port Orchard. She was born September 12, 1942.”

Howe Family Proclamation

Former SKSD Super LaRose to leave Culver City

Former South Kitsap School District Superintendent Dave LaRose is leaving Culver City Unified School District at the end of the school year, according to The Wave Newspapers of Culver City.

LaRose cited personal reasons for leaving the job that drew him away from South Kitsap in 2012. He is not taking a position with another district, he said.
Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 5.27.27 PM
“If the next chapter of my life was to be in a leadership role for a school district, there’s no place I’d rather be than here in Culver City,” LaRose is quoted as saying in The Wave article. “I’m not sure what I will be doing next, but it has truly been an honor to serve the Culver City community.”

LaRose said the next chapter of his career may include consulting, a sabbatical or even teaching.

LaRose, known during his tenure in South Kitsap as a charismatic evangelist of the “whole child, whole community” philosophy, accepted the job at the Southern California school district in 2012, saying at the time he wanted to be closer to his daughters, one of whom was living in California, the other who was attending college in Arizona.

LaRose was promoted to superintendent in 2008 by the school board after serving as the district’s assistant superintendent for family and support services and as principal at Orchard Heights Elementary School.

Echoing comments made by South Kitsap school officials when LaRose left this community, Culver City Board President Steve Levin said he was sorry to see LaRose leave.

“Dave has been an amazing, charismatic leader for the district, and we’re really sorry to see him go,” Levin said. “He has helped us make great strides in the right direction, and we are committed to keeping that momentum going. Dave’s legacy will benefit our students for years to come.”

During his time in Culver City, LaRose championed the Culver City Compact, “a signed document that outlines the community’s commitment and vision for a bright educational future that was adopted by a large group of community members, businesses and organizations,” according to The Wave. He also oversaw the launch of $106 million in major renovations and technology upgrades that are could take 12 years to complete.

South Kitsap School District serves more than 9,000 students; Culver City Unified serves roughly 6,500.

St. Vincent’s meets financial goal for construction loan

Just more than a week ago, St. Vincent de Paul thrift store lacked $65,000 needed to qualify for a construction loan on its new building. Time was running out for St. Vinnie’s, which for 25 years has offered aid to needy folks with profits from its sales. The thrift store was in danger of closing.

Today, St. Vincent met its goal to raise a total of $100,000, Sean Jeu, director of operations announced. The money was raised largely through small donations of $5, $10 and $20, plus several larger donations and a really big gift from an anonymous donor.

“The community’s really stepped up,” Jeu said.
Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 6.10.36 PM
The thrift store must move from its Bay Street location, owned by Bruce Titus of Bruce Titus Ford, by January 2017. In December 2016 , St. Vincent announced it had secured roughly $400,000 in collateral but lacked an additional $100,000 the bank said would be needed to qualify for the loan. Renting was not an option, since there are no big enough spaces in Port Orchard the thrift store can afford, and building payments on land St. Vincent already owns on Bethel Avenue actually will be cheaper than current rent payments.

As of Feb. 17, St. Vincent had raised $35,300 through donations.

St. Vincent needed to apply for the loan by March 1 to start construction in April and stay on track for a move by early 2017, Jeu said. The funding gap seemed wide.

On Friday, Jeu was elated. He had met with bank officials and received encouraging news.

“I am very happy, so much weight off my shoulders,” he said. “The community is so amazing.”

Jeu said he can’t disclose the amount of the largest donation, which actually pushed St. Vinnie’s over the top of their goal. He also gave no information on the major donor, who wants to remain anonymous.

The additional money will be used for construction costs on the $1.8 million, 24,000-square-foot building, Jeu said.

St. Vincent’s board had come up with a plan B, should they fall short of their goal, which was to scale back the project and forego things like staff office space, awnings and other non-essentials, at least for now. Now, they will be able to go with plan A and possibly pay some of the principal on the loan, depending on the final cost of construction.

Bruce Titus was one of the donors who helped St. Vincent reach its goal. Jeu said he couldn’t disclose the amount, but he said Titus has been very supportive of the organization.

A message from NMSD superintendent on the shooting in Belfair

Two children were confirmed dead today by the Mason County Sheriff’s Department in a shooting in Belfair that left the gunman and two other people dead.

The home where the shooting occurred was nowhere near schools in North Mason School District and school continued without interruption. Inevitably, however, the whole community will be affected.

North Mason School District Superintendent Dana Rosenbach posted the following message, copied below in full, on the district’s website.

Take care. Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun

“Today has been a tragic day

Today has been a tragic day and we are all affected by the great loss. As parents you may want to talk to your children about today’s tragedies and their impact. Witnessing or even hearing of a traumatic incident may affect a child or adult in a variety of ways. Therefore, it is very important that children be given ample opportunities to ask questions and to talk about their reactions to the incidents. Currently children may also have concerns about their safety and security and consequently may need reassurance. Over the next two days, you may find your children need to discuss their questions and concerns with you. For that reason, we are providing the information at the end of this message.
Over the weekend, or at any time, you may access the Lewis/Mason Crime Victim Service Center at 1-888-288-9221 for 24 hour help in dealing with trauma. In addition, you can get more support at the National Traumatic Stress Network (http://nctsnet.org/).
For children, Dana Rosenbach
North Mason School District Superintendent

When reacting to a traumatic incident, a child may display behaviors such as the following:
• Clings close to adults
• Displays regressive behaviors (acting like a much younger child)
• Repetitively reenacts the event in play activities
• Appears not to be affected
• Thinks about it privately
• Asks a lot of questions
• Appears frightened
• Appears agitated and angry
• Appears sad and withdrawn
• Displays difficulty sleeping
• Stomach aches and somatic complaints
It is very important that you take the time to listen to your children. If they seem to need to talk, answer their questions simply, honestly and possibly over and over again. Below are some suggestions that parents may find useful in helping your child deal with the present events:
• Assure fearful children that you will be there to take care of them. Reassure them many times.
• Provide physical closeness. Spend extra time putting your child back to bed. Talk and offer reassurance.
• Encourage children to ask questions and to discuss, write or draw their feelings.
• Be a good listener. Listen carefully for any misconceptions or distortions the student may have regarding what happened.
• Talk with your child and provide simple, accurate information to questions.
• Provide play and fun experiences to relieve tension.
• Help the child develop safety plans and procedures (“What should you do if….?”)
• Remind them of concrete examples of where they are being protected and cared for by parents, adults, teachers, police, etc.
• Make sure the child gets rest and exercise.
– See more at: http://www.nmsd.wednet.edu/News/112#sthash.uggv8Yop.dpuf”