Last Call to Sound Off on South Kitsap Schools Budget

South Kitsap School Board to Hold Final Hearing on 2008/09 Budget

Board will use district’s reserve fund to make up more than half of a nearly $3 million deficit.
By Chris Henry
The South Kitsap School District Board of Directors on Wednesday will hold a final public hearing on its proposed $102 million budget for the 2008/09 school year.
The board could adopt the budget the same night. Its deadline for budget adoption is Aug. 31.
The board proposes to make up more than half – $1.7 million – of a projected $3 million general fund deficit by using its reserve fund. General fund appropriations are proposed at $97 million.
The remainder of the deficit will be made up through moderate cuts spread throughout various departments and funds. No outright layoffs are expected this year, although – with deficits projected into the foreseeable future – a significant reduction in staff is expected in the 2009/10 school year, according to Terri Patton, assistant superintendent for business and support services.
The district this year will save $300,000 by not filling vacated positions, by reducing special education staff contracts to adjust for enrollment and reducing hours in an accounting position.
More than $300,000 will be saved by a 10 percent across the board reduction in “non-employee-related” costs, such as paper, copying equipment and miscellaneous supplies. The reduction is likely to be felt in schools, which haven’t absorbed such a hit since the district failed to pass a levy and lacked supplemental funding in the 2000/01 school year.
“Cost shifting,” transferring expenses such as laundry, transportation and storage, directly to departments, will save another $134,000. But the effect will be felt by students as the cost is passed on to them. The board has already approved an increase in lunch prices.
As the board considers how much to ask of voters in a February measure to replace the district’s expiring maintenance and operations levy, they will look to replenishing the reserve fund. The district’s goal is to maintain the fund at or above three percent of the total budget.
The reserve fund ended last year $1 million higher than expected due to higher than expected property tax revenue among other factors. The district will tap the reserve fund by an additional $720,000 above the $1 million to balance the budget for the upcoming school year.
Copies of the proposed budget will be available at the meeting. For information on the budget call (360) 874-7012 or e-mail

20 thoughts on “Last Call to Sound Off on South Kitsap Schools Budget

  1. I would like to see the SKSD board actually make some progress this year. It seems that board members certainly have a lot of time of their hands. Time enough to make accusations about contract workers, time to file false charges, though apparently not time to show character and correct false information, time enough to look up every comment ever uttered at a Port of Bremerton meeting.

    Let’s see the board actually work on school board business this year. Until I see them do so, I’m keeping my wallet firmly in my pocket. They’re getting not a cent out of me the way they currently operate.

  2. Did you attend the Public Hearing about the Budget last night, Mary? There was extensive dialog on the budget issues and the fiscal dilemnas that are causing us to dip into reserves this year in order to continue to provide the best student achievement opportunities for kids.

    Did you hear the dialog? Do you understand the factors that go into the budget process? Do you bother to get the facts before you attacked?

    When I expressed my concern about the Port’s action it was after gathering the facts. I really suggest you do the same.

    As for participating in other arenas in the community, I take full responsibility for that. My school board service doesn’t suffer from my involvement. In fact, many would argue that understanding and participating in issues that affect South Kitsap are part and parcel of being a good school board member.

    Have a great day!

    Kathryn Simpson

  3. I disagree. I believe that your meddling in the affairs of other boards hampers the district. I am continually surprised that the district would allow you to act as a spokesperson. Usually, institutions are much more cautious about their messaging and that’s why they have their carefully groomed Public Affairs Officer.

    How does Aimee Warthen feel about you taking on her role? How does the rest of the board feel about your political activities? When I serve on boards, I am required upon acceptance of the role, to work in the best interest of the organization, without political or personal bias.

    You have shown that you cannot do so. Political and personal bias is evident at every meeting I have ever seen you attend.

    As far as yesterday goes, I had more important things to do than attend a school board meeting. As I said before, I am done with SKSD. My time, my money, my voice are mine. I have given enough to SKSD. You personally helped me arrive at that decision. Should I thank you for that? Does the district?

    As I said in a previous blog, there are dozens, hundreds even, of ways to support students and their learning. For seven hours on Monday, I helped students prepare fair entries and yesterday I took five youngsters, three of which who had never been to the fair, to the fair. It was amazing seeing it through their eyes. We filled out their passports (part way) by wandering through the animal barns. We attended the rodeo. We ate fun, fair food. We looked at all the fair exhibits. We checked out all the booths. We met people. We laughed. They had such a good time and one of the kids ended up taking Best in Class for her entry and was overjoyed.

    A few weeks ago, I took a half dozen teens, all from SK, to UW to meet with climate scientists then to Shoreline to learn about solar energy technology. That, too, was an amazing, energizing day.

    Fortunately, there are dozens, hundreds even, of ways to help kids learn that don’t involve schools at all. Thankfully, since we have such wretched people involved in ours.

    These, Kathryn, are not attacks. Just my opinions, guaranteed by my first amendment rights. The judge stated that exact thing to you, remember?

    Mary Colborn

  4. Mary, while I commend your participation and volunteerism, examples in your own post above, in a wide variety of local causes and events, I don’t understand how you justify taking Kathryn to task for also participating in a wide variety of local causes and issues? If you really want to support students and education, why are you taking the easiest route in penalizing them for leadership they had no decision in making? Should I as a parent of school age child in this county, possibly view many of your posts as a cause for concern in your ability to do your job as a volunteer. Because I don’t agree with you on issues, should I then question whether you are volunteering without personal political bias and thus doing the most effective job possible?

    These statements of course Mary, are not attacks, just my personal opinions guaranteed by my First Amendment Rights.

    Most respectfully,

    Colleen Smidt

  5. Mary,

    With all due respect, when you say that Kathryn and the board have time to:

    “make accusations about contract workers, time to file false charges, though apparently not time to show character”

    That most certainly IS an attack. I’ve disagreed with Kathryn in the past, but I greatly respect her and find that she almost always is very reasoned. It seems obvious to me that you have some kind of personal vendetta. Please take it offline. I’m sick of it.

  6. I am not taking Kathryn to task for her volunteerism. What an absurd assumption. I am going on the record to say that I am and will continue to take her to task for her unreasonable charges against other elected officials and (in the case of Tim Botkin) contract workers.

    She insinutated in a recent blog that Tim Botkin was still accepting pay for the SEED project. When called on it, she didn’t come back and apologize for misleading readers. She sidestepped the issue. Made some silly insinuation that she fears being attacked in grocery stores with fruit.

    In another instance, she went to the insurance company that underwrote the SK Community Park to complain that an insurance payoff was due to fraudulent information. She also went to the papers. When there wasn’t anything to back up the charges, she never went to the papers to correct this information.

    The list goes on. Do you want it all? Continue to believe that she is well-reasoned. I know otherwise.

    For the record, I will continue to call her out on these and other examples of poor character. And, as long as she is involved in SKSD, for what it is worth, my support is gone.

    Whether you care, Elliot, or not, it is not my concern. Kathryn is a bully, maybe covert, but a bully nonetheless. It’s imperative not to allow her behavior to go unquestioned.

  7. I left out the fact that she and Judi Edwards also went to the police to report that they believed the SK Parks & Recreation board acted fraudulently, then never came out with a public apology when there was no evidence to prove their allegations.

    this is just one example. There are more examples of Karl Rovian politics at its worst. In the process, she destroys (or attempts to destroy) through public humiliation the reputation of good people. You see that as reasonable, an example of a public servant at their best? I don’t.

    I am continually amazed that the SKSD would allow her to act as their spokesperson. The fact that it does, sends a powerful message about the district.

  8. I have been reading these blogs for a long time and find them very useful and informative. I appreciate all the time and effort that goes into the research by Kathryn Simpson, Bob Meadows and others. Without your information much of the stories would be missed.

    I am however discouraged by the comments that are increasingly off topic and pointed with a specific targeted agenda – personal vendetta.

    I plead with you to please keep your comments on topic so that these blogs can provide the forum they are intended to be – a reasonable, informative discussion – not a forum to vent your personal feelings.

    It is well known the personal feelings of some posters but quite frankly I think we have all heard it more times that we care to count and would now like to move on to the topics with a level headed, quality discussion.

    To use Sharon’s line – In my opinion. Thank you.

  9. I will not apologize to anyone, ever, for making true statements and for working hard for public accountability for the actions of public officials, whether they be Parks Board Members, Port Directors, School Board Members, Legislators, Governors, or Presidents. My involvement with the SK Park issues is well documented in the archives of the blogs. I encourage anyone who wants to know what I said, when I said it, what I did, when I did it, to read them.

    As for why I am “allowed” to serve on the South Kitsap School Board… that privilege is because 10,653 (62.17%) of the voters in the 2005 election elected me instead of my opponent (who received 6,346 votes or 37.03%).

    I serve on a board with four other very good people. We don’t always agree. Sometimes we passionately disagree. But we work together, we show respect for one another, and we work towards consensus because we care deeply about our community and are passionate about the importance of K-12 education.

    You may attempt to malign my character, Mary. You may say untrue things about me. You may do whatever you wish. However, you do not define me. My actions define me. Whether that earns me anyone’s vote is the least of my concerns. That I can sleep at night, knowing that my children are safe and healthy, and I can pray to my God with clean hands and a clean heart… that is important to me. Everything else is gravy.

    Matthew 7:20
    By their fruits ye shall know them…

    Have a great night.

    Kathryn Simpson

  10. Yes, your actions define you, or your lack thereof. Interestingly, there’s another scandal with SKSD. Apparently, two schools in the district, Orchard Heights and Sidney Glen are sanctioned for the performance of students on the WASL. Parents have the option of having their children transferred.

    Like I said, if you put more time into your own elected position and stop meddling in others, well, maybe we wouldn’t have had five scandals to come out of the district within the past six months.

  11. It isn’t a “scandal”, Mary. It is the nature of the NCLB law that was poorly thought out and Congress hasn’t had the courage to fix it, yet. It is sad that you would beat up on two schools who are making great strides just because you don’t like me. Very sad. In fact, it is pathetic.

    Frankly, you don’t seem to get it. You think I should only be involved in school issues in the community? How short-sighted is that? What affects our community affects our schools, our students, our staff, and our credibility. When citizens don’t trust their elected officials, that rubs off on all jurisdictions.

    Further, I am also a citizen in our community. I have a right and a responsibility to be active in community affairs, not just schools.

    When a certain county commissioner candidate was elected to the SK Parks Board, was she supposed to stop all other political activity for that four years? Of course not. But, the rules are different when you like someone or they agree with you, aren’t they, Mary?

    Kathryn Simpson

  12. You don’t think that having failing schools within the district is a scandal? It’s funny how you make so many excuses for the problems at SKSD. The budget crisis – well, everyone has that problem, it’s not us. Now, let’s blame the No Child Left Behind law (that your Republican president put forth). You don’t give anyone else that kind of latitude. Interesting.

    I am demanding as a taxpayer in the SKSD that you start being accountable for your elected position and stop meddling to the point you do in the lives and work of others. Calling what you do political or volunteer work is a joke.

    It’s not a matter of not doing political or volunteer work, like Colleen suggested. It’s a matter of the dirty, behind the scenes, Karl Rovian tricks you are famous for.

    It’s not just me that doesn’t like you. Someone told me a few days ago when speaking of your efforts, “She’s evil.”

    Another person gave me a book called, “The Sociopath Next Door,” and said, “this is Kathryn.”

    Your efforts to discredit people within SKPR, the Port of Bremerton (including Mr. Botkin) and others hasn’t gone unnoticed.

    The biblical saying, “By their fruits ye shall know them…” should make you very afraid.

  13. Ironically, The No Child Left Behing law is probably going to be the only success Presdient Bush is remembered for.

    Mary, you reap what you sow. The Port of Bremerton raised our property taxes right before a school bond vote. Without consulting the taxpayers or putting it on the ballot. I received my notice 3 weeks before the bond vote. It was a substantial increase. I had thought up until that moment the vote could go either way, but after I opened my tax assessment, I knew it was going to lose. My personal opinion is that their action cost us a badly needed second high school. It might be irrational or immature, but that’s what I think. So now I’m skeptical about everything they do. Everytime something happens, the Port/Tribe agreement, for instance, people are going to be suspicious or wary. And want a full accounting. And inclusion and plenty of notice. It’s a good thing, Mary, even if it’s hurt one of the projects you support. You must see that.

    I believe the Port of Bremerton is developing housing on their property behind the Ridge at Mccormick Woods. The idea is that the students from that neighborhood will attend South Kitsap School District. Does that add insult to injury? I wonder if they knew their property tax increase was going to kill the new high school and went ahead with it?

    If you were “for” schools, you would be holding the Port accountable as well. And looking to their next project, so it’s handled fairly. SKIA? It’s not personal, it’s just business.

    Thanks, by the way, for all the things you do and have done for this community.

  14. Mary,

    Good grief.

    I’ve probably agreed with you more times than I’ve agreed with Kathryn, but your increasingly obvious personal animosity is only making you look more and more foolish. Your posts are growing more and more vituperative and personal.

    Stop it. Please. The ONLY person who’s looking more and more like “the sociopath next door” here is you.

  15. You two should bury the hatchet. You’re both formidable women and your hearts are in the right place. Why don’t you role model working things out and get on the same side. You would make an awesome team. Kathryn has tried to engage you on the issues but you rebuffed her. Mary, for someone that likes to quote the Bible, you’re short on forgiveness. What happened between you two was an unfortunate incident, but why don’t you be the person that says “Things got out of hand, let’s move on.” Why don’t you be the big person.

  16. Mary has inadvertently brought unified agreement to many of us who frequently disagree over the smallest things.

    The original story here is about the SKSD budget. Let’s get back to that.

  17. “My personal opinion is that their action cost us a badly needed second high school. It might be irrational or immature, but that’s what I think. So now I’m skeptical about everything they do.”

    Very sound posts here by Karen, not to mention refreshing honesty. Indeed, if there are matters which relate to what’s on the table – include them. However, the personal stuff about who’s evil or a sociopath, their mothering skills…not the best approach.

  18. The Port of Bremerton doesn’t own land behind the Ridge on McCormick Woods. The City of Bremerton sold the watershed to the developers.

    Other point – You can’t see that there could be other reasons besides the Port’s tax increase that caused the bond failure? I know some very wise and brilliant people within South Kitsap who had perfectly reasoned opinions on why the bond measure was the wrong measure at the wrong time. Their opinions had nothing to do with the Port’s tax increase.

    Many felt that the numbers didn’t add up, that the projected growth figures were skewed. Others felt that the district asked for too much, especially out of a community that is hurting. Still others expressed environmental concerns (like myself) not wanting to see the whole of the watershed on Old Clifton destroyed. Other reasons: enrollment was dropping in other districts and in ours, forcing school closures in Bremerton and CKSD; people would rather see the money put into academic programs not new facilities; numbers for projected needs not accurate, i.e. would need twice as many teachers and administrators to duplicate programs and more.

    If you want to keep beating up the Port over missing out on your high school, I guess no matter of reasoning will change your minds, but recognize that you wouldn’t have passed the bond measure even without the Port increase. There were enough of us who had unanswered questions and enough people who feel that throwing money at schools doesn’t make them better.

    Unfortunately, if blame is always the name of the game with the district, no introspection can occur and no positive changes or growth will happen. It’s like there is a “poor, poor me,” mentality that overrides all else. That’s the sorry part.

    The sorrier part is that the district doesn’t recognize its resources nor use them well, whether volunteers, personnel, buildings or money, nor in my case the value of a positive voice for the schools.

    Did you realize that between 20-25% of everything I ever wrote for the POI was pro-school, but alas Ms. Simpson decided that her personal vendetta trumped all and attacked over a column written about the beautiful and talented Michelle Tapia, the lead in Bye Bye Birdie.

    So, yes, get back to this issue of the budget and how the district will fix things. I am curious.

  19. Mary,

    I had no personal vendetta against you. In fact, despite your outrageous behavior, I still have no vendetta against you. Certainly your behavior scares me. I’ll give you that.

    Further, I have no idea who Michelle Tapia is and never attacked you over a column. You are imagining something that either didn’t happen or I was not involved in.

    Kathryn Simpson

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