Peninsular Thinking A conversation about Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Manchester, Seabeck, Southworth, Suquamish, Belfair, Keyport, Olalla, Bangor, Hansville, Indianola, Port Gamble, Allyn, Port Ludlow, Gig Harbor and every once in a while something about the good folks who don't have the good fortune to live here.
In 2008, the South Kitsap school board
appointed then-assistant Superintendent Dave LaRose to succeed
then-outgoing Superintendent Bev Cheney. Both LaRose and Leavell
were well known to district constituents and well-liked by most.
Leavell, like LaRose, has been the district’s assistant
But the SKSD board got some serious blowback for presuming that
LaRose’s appointment would be universally welcomed. The board
announced its intention to hire LaRose to lead the district and
held forums so district residents could comment before making it
official. Then-board president Patty Henderson said the board had
heard LaRose was applying for the Bremerton superintendent position
(vacated by Bette Hyde and eventually filled by Flip Herndon), and
SKSD didn’t want to lose LaRose to another district.
The tide of comments at the 2008 SKSD superintendent forums
indicated a public slighted by the process. The overwhelming
majority praised LaRose but said other candidates should have been
considered, even if the intention was to hire from within.
Comments like this from then-former school board member Chris
Lemke were common. (Lemke is now on the board again, but was
elected after LaRose was appointed.)
“He’s a wonderful man,” Lemke said. “What I disagree with, there
are other candidates. Give them the chance to speak, and give
people the opportunity to speak about them.”
In contrast, the Bremerton school board was careful not to
overtly express its intentions, although several comments by board
members hinted at the direction they were heading.
The BSD board held a
community forum Aug. 30, inviting city residents to talk about
the district’s needs and the search process in general. The
overwhelming majority at that meeting clamored for the board to
At the next meeting, the BSD board took their suggestion and
welcomed Leavell with open arms.
While none of the Bremerton board members mentioned LaRose’s
appointment, it seemed to be hovering in the back of their
In comments made before the motion to appoint Leavell, board
member Dave RubioRubie said he has taken note of “other districts” who have
hired from within.
“They key point is they didn’t get feedback from all
stakeholders,” RubioRubie said. “I
really wanted to make sure we were following the process correctly
and that we were listening to all sides and all positions.”
To conclude this footnote, I think it’s fair to say that the
controversy surrounding LaRose’s appointment didn’t substantially
affect his tenure.
Here’s Patty Henderson explaining the SKSD board’s thinking
before it formalized appointment of LaRose. He is now in
California, replaced this summer by Michelle Reid.
Wayne Lindberg, director of finance and operations for Bremerton
School District, said Friday the news that Superintendent Flip
applying for superintendent of the Renton School District did
not come as a surprise to him or other top BSD administrators.
Herndon had earlier informed his “cabinet” of his intentions, since
part of the application process involves interviewing a candidate’s
current school district.
Lindberg furthermore wasn’t surprised that Herndon — who in 2012
applied for superintendent of the Puyallup School District — was
continuing his search for a position in a larger, more urban
district closer to Seattle. Herndon bought a home in Bremerton
after he was hired in 2009, but his family lives in Seattle.
“It wasn’t a surprise, because we knew he wanted to get back on
the other side of the water to be close to his family,” Lindberg
Asked how he feels about the prospect of losing Herndon, 43, to
another district, Lindberg said. “It’s unfortunate, but a young
upwardly mobile person, it’s not unexpected.”
Lindberg said Herndon has contributed to the district’s
financial stability by encouraging a move toward paperless
record-keeping. He also pushed for a science-math focused program
at what is now West Hill STEM Academy.
Yvonne Dean saw her husband retire while their two daughters were
preparing for college and decided to take work as a substitute
teacher in the Bremerton School District.
That was 1988.
On Tuesday she was celebrated by fellow members of the Bremerton
Professional Education Association. Dean is retiring.
“We’re going to be lose a historian,” said Wanda Liner at
Tuesday’s regular meeting that turned into a tribute. “We’re going
to have some big shoes to fill, especially in the union.”
The union is made up with the school district’s equivalent of
the “people for that.” You know, like that time you spilled the
shrimp sauce on the carpet at Alex Rodriguez’ house. You started to
clean it up yourself, but Alex gently reminded you not to worry,
that “We have people for that.”
The “people for that” in the school district do clerical work,
manage offices and serve as paraeducators and custodians. If the
school district were a human body, the BPEA and its statewide
union, the Public School Employees of Washington, would be the
liver. I know no one wants to be called “the liver,” but take one
out of your body try living without it. You can’t.
There were moments Tuesday, too, when it became clear that there
are times these employees feel as unappreciated as a liver. There
are contract talks at play now, and not everyone is happy about the
direction those are going.
Dean started as a sub, then worked as a clerical assistant and
office assistant at Crown Hill Elementary, Magnuson Community
School and the district’s business, maintenance and transportation
offices. She didn’t drive the buses, (“No way would they get me on
a bus with 70 kids behind me,” she said. “That takes a special
person.”) but she handled transportation issues in the office so a
bus driver could focus on driving a route.
“I have grandkids,” Dean said when asked why she’s retiring.
“It’s time for a change.”
Change is something she has seen over 24 years. One thing she
mentions is how parents are much less willing to accept
responsibility for what their children do now than when she started
working in the district. Before, a child acting up in class would
lament that the “worst thing was Mom and Dad were going to know and
they would do something.” She also said all the technology
available has made us all less willing to look at each other and
say, “Hi.” That, she said, will prove difficult for today’s kids.
“I understand it’s great, but we need to communicate.”
My recollections from my years in school were that some of the
classified employees we met were among our favorite personalities.
Olie was the custodian at my elementary school and Bernie served
that role in high school.
Even if we didn’t know them directly, they certainly had an
impact. When I tried to ditch school it wasn’t a teacher I tried to
trick into believing I was my dad. I went to school that day at the
gentle prodding of a nice woman whose name I no longer recall.
Nonetheless, she had as much to do with my education experience as
some of the teachers. I just didn’t know it or appreciate it at the
time. So many important things were done for us students, things we
never had to notice because the school district made sure we had
“people for that.”